Insider data breaches: how to protect your business

insider data breaches
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Cybersecurity consultancy SecureTeam details ways to prevent insider data breaches and protect business security.

The majority of businesses installing security systems do so because they are concerned about outside attackers attempting to gain access to their network – but there is also a threat from insider attackers which can cause data breaches. A data breach has the potential to leak or lose a significant amount of private, sensitive or confidential data that your business might handle. The threat of insider data breaches is increasingly considered a major risk to businesses’ cybersecurity.

SecureTeam is a company specialising in cybersecurity consultancy, which has an extensive knowledge of internal network security. It has prepared this guide to help businesses prevent insider data breaches.

What is considered an insider threat?

Insider threats can come from a range of sources which are either inside of your organisation or have access to your network. They include:

  • An accidental insider – this threat comes from the accidental leaking or exposing of your network or data by one of your employees. This kind of insider data breach is often the result of a simple and honest mistake, but still represents a risk to your business. It could involve exposing your network to a malicious link from an email, losing a secure device or accidentally divulging information. This is the easiest threat to neutralise if you practice strong security practices and train your team correctly in data protection.
  • A malicious insider – unlike the previous example, this employee is using their legitimate access to your network for nefarious reasons. A malicious insider will attempt to leak confidential data or provide access to your network to a malicious outsider by intentionally sharing passwords or compromising the security system.
  • Social engineers – although not technically an insider threat, social engineers attempt to manipulate your employees through social interaction and exploit them into becoming accidental insiders and divulging sensitive information or providing access to the network.
  • Third party access – if you work with third party consultants or contractors who are regularly provided with access to your network then they might present a security risk. They could accidentally or intentionally use that access to view confidential information which would be considered a data breach. Former employees who have not yet had their security permissions revoked should also be considered a threat if they are still able to access their former accounts or information.

How to prevent insider data breaches

By applying best security practices you can help to prevent insider data breaches from occurring. Here are some simple changes you can make to protect your business.

  • List your sensitive data and who has access – the first step to protecting your sensitive data is to list all of the confidential information handled by your business and identify who has access to it. By making note of all this information you are in a much better position to secure that sensitive data.
  • Creating a data use policy – by creating a data use policy you outline what you expect your employees to do when handling sensitive data and can help prevent accidental insider data breaches. The policy should outline the guidelines with regard to data protection and security; and include the consequences for a breach in this policy.
  • Access restrictions – making use of strong security credentials, preventing concurrent logins and restricting access to your network to a physical location, such as your offices, can help stop an outsider attacker from exploiting stolen credentials to gain access to your network.
  • Reviewing user accounts – you should routinely check the privileges of your users and remove any unnecessary access to help reduce the potential of data breaches. Be sure to check on the access privileges of former employees and ensure they no longer have access to sensitive data or confidential information.
  • Culture of accountability – you should attempt to create a culture of accountability with your managers and staff that ensures they all understand their individual responsibilities and the responsibilities of their teams with regard to data protection. By ensuring your employees are held accountable to mistakes or intentional breaches you help to prevent data breaches.

In conclusion

It is prudent to assume that your business will come under attack at some point and that through assiduous preparation you can reduce the threat. Having a plan in place to deal with insider data breaches and security threats makes it much easier to deal with any problems when they arise.

The damage caused by an insider data breach can significantly affect your business’ reputation and pose a serious threat to your business; but by practising best security practices you can help to prevent that threat from becoming a reality.


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