The Insider Threat: Which Employees Are Trying to Steal Your Data?

A report by Crowd Research Partners that came out in June 2015 found that Privileged Users are the biggest threat to data security. A Privileged User is someone who has unrestricted access to sensitive data.

employees as insider threats

Depending on the size of your organization you may have a few people or many people with Privileged Access. While it’s not productive to restrict access for everyone, it’s also not a smart strategy to allow those with special access to go unmonitored.

Who are the people with Privileged Access in your organization?  Probably your executive team, your financial team, directors, managers and certainly key members of your IT staff.

Other people with special access often include:
  • Contractors
  • Consultants
  • Regular employees

While the Crowd Research Partners report showed that many IT managers felt that insider threats were a growing concern less than half of all respondents had a plan in place for proactively detecting these insiders from harming the organization.

Here are a few things you can do to protect your company from insider threats without having to get a huge budget approved:

1. Restrict Access to Sensitive Information After-Hours

Many employees today have company issued mobile phones and laptops. These devices can help increase productivity both from home and while on-the-go. Unfortunately, they also open your organization up to the possibility of inappropriate behavior taking place in an environment where the user feels very comfortable that no one is “looking over their shoulder.”

Restricting access to sensitive information outside of your normal business hours can help deter threats to your security.

2. Use Employee Monitoring Software

You can go a step beyond time-fencing by deploying cloud-based employee monitoring software on company owned computers. Employee Monitoring by Pilixo silently records every action taken on a computer providing you with HD video evidence on what actions employees are taking no matter when or where they are using their computers.

Employee Monitoring also allows you to setup alerts for specific actions that may be malicious in nature such as:
  • Downloading, printing or emailing confidential files
  • Searching for specific keywords
  • Accessing or using credit card numbers or social security numbers

You can setup custom alerts for almost any scenario in which an insider may be acting maliciously. Coupled with the real-time screen recording, not only can you stop an insider threat in his or her steps, but you have the video evidence you need to take appropriate action.

3. Have a Policy for Lost or Stolen Devices

Because many employees today are mobile, it’s important to know how you’ll handle devices that are reported as lost or stolen. These devices can have very sensitive data downloaded on them and must be wiped clean in the event that one turns up missing.

InformationWeek suggests using data encryption and remote data wiping as methods for keeping data safe. “Encryption prevents loss of data in the short term, while remote wiping of the device completely eliminates any potential data loss.”

The Most Important Advice is to Be Prepared

The latest research shows that the average cost of a data breach will set a company back by $3.5 million per incident. Don’t get caught in a compromising position by having a lackadaisical policy in place for managing insider threats.

While it’s easy to want to trust your employees and colleagues, the fact is they can be a threat to your data without even meaning to be. A simple download of a confidential file on a laptop that gets lost can cause a major data breach.  Be prepared.


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