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How to Identify Insider Threats

If a company hasn't already been hacked into, then it's just a matter of time. Part of living in the digital era is having everything connected to devices and clouds, and part of integrating technology leaves businesses just a tad vulnerable. You can implement as much security features as possible, but there are always new devices and techniques coming out — which means new ways hackers can get in.

Although you may be concerned with what threats lie beyond the company, some may be dwelling right under your nose. Employees are an extremely high threat and pose a risk without ever being seen. These issues are often complicated, but they do exist. Being vigilant is the only way to ensure these threats don't surface.

Why Insider Threats Happen

There are two categories of insider threats, which are malicious and unintentional. The malicious kind is what's probably most imagined in this scenario. Employees can have problems with their home life that lead them to double-cross the company, like seeking financial rewards, but sometimes the employee wants to get back at the business for some particular reason.

Unintentional threats are debatably worse, since they're really accidents at heart. These could happen because of poor training, the employee being a victim of a hacker or losing a company device in public. Regardless, sometimes these issues can't be helped — even if you do everything right.

Find the Threats First

Finding the threats before they happen is extremely important. We all want to get rid of the problem and be vigilant, but this is doubly so in the case of hackers. For some companies, it could take years before the initial hack comes to light, and by then, the damage is long since done. At this point, there's very little a business can do for damage control, especially if their customers are affected as well.

Companies must be vigilant about insider threats. It's too easy to overlook potential problems or believe a hack on such a large scale couldn't happen. Other employees may be hesitant to report or take action against those who pose a legitimate threat, so staying on top of the situation is vital.

How to Mitigate Internal Risk

One of the best things you can do is keep your employees happy. Don't give them a reason to want to stab you in the back. This includes keeping a proactive safety culture in the workplace, which ensures employees stay motivated and confident in who they work for. Employee assistance programs and anything else that makes them know you care can go a long way.

When a company hires people, though, they're usually confident about who they're taking on. Pre-employment screenings and surveys are becoming the new normal. However, post-employment screening is another option to consider. To be fair, employees may lie if they feel like their job could be in jeopardy, so providing them with a safe environment for them to speak their mind while focusing on making the company better would benefit everyone.

Protect the Business

Sometimes you have to look into every route necessary to protect the business you've managed to build. Software updates and data backups are essential steps to keep the company safe from a cyberattack, both internally and externally. A mindset needs to be put into place to always consider cybersecurity.

While being vigilant is important, you can invest in cyber liability insurance and prepare for the worst. This can cover lost revenue from a breach as well as services for crisis management. With any luck, the damage won't have to spread to your customer base and thus ruin a hard-built reputation. Insurance for this sort of thing might sound unfounded, but it's becoming more necessary due to the world we live in.

Follow Your Instincts

Trying to catch an inside threat before damage occurs can be daunting. You don't want to accuse innocent, loyal, hardworking employees of wrongdoing. At the same time, if you aren't aware of the employees themselves, you might be facing breaches later on. Treating them right and trying to ensure they won't take action against the company is just one of the ways you can help mitigate loss.

Don't accuse employees needlessly of wrongful acts. Have proof before you ever consider saying something, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. You shouldn't have to feel on guard in the workplace, but these simple practices will help you, your employees, and the company feel a lot safer.

written by

Kayla Matthews tech journalist & writer


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