It is no secret that cyber scams, corporate hackings, and data theft is rife in modern society, as people spend more time online and companies rely upon it for core elements of their business model.
However, a little-known fact is that many of these corporate data thefts and losses are caused by insider threats. An insider threat is an employee, former employee, or someone close to the business who wittingly or unwittingly loses, steals, or shares a company’s private data, whether that be finance-related, customer-related, or any other confidential information that is not legally permitted to be shared outside of approved parties.
This is a difficult problem to solve for business owners because you cannot distrust your employees or partners or risk causing a rapid deterioration of your working relationships. Nevertheless, it is critical that you put steps in place to prevent it from happening and, in the worst-case scenario, from severely damaging your company.
Here is more information on insider threats and how you can stop them from damaging your company:
What is an insider threat?
An insider threat is an individual who is close to or within your organization with authorized access to confidential information, who misuses that information, whether deliberately or otherwise.
These individuals are usually employees, but they can also be outside partners, contractors, or investors who have access to sensitive information. There are two types of insider threats – those who deliberately seek to sabotage your business and those who make an error of judgment and accidentally share some private information.
The former is, of course, the most insidious because a trusted colleague has gone behind your back to deliberately damage your company for their own gain. This could be because of a personal falling out, fraud, or espionage. This type of incident is especially pertinent if your organization is related to public services like healthcare, the finance industry, or the government.
However, a data leak could happen due to human error or bad luck, such as if a device storing sensitive information was stolen or lost, if an employee suffered a phishing attack or if they sent data to the wrong person. You can find out more about insider threats here.
How can it damage your business?
There are a number of ways that an insider threat can damage your organization. Firstly, if financial details are lost or shared, then your company could lose a great deal of money. Secondly, if any customer records are leaked, then your business could suffer a reputational hammer blow, from which it may never recover.
Another way in which it could cause damage is if a rival company or individual got hold of confidential product plans and copied your ideas.
What can you do to prevent it from happening?
It is extremely difficult to prevent an insider threat because while you can buy the most protective anti-virus software available, you can’t predict the actions of human beings. Furthermore, the majority of people are entirely trustworthy, so it is unfair to suspect them on no grounds.
However, you can make sure to limit the number of people who have access to sensitive information, change passwords regularly, and monitor the working activity of anyone with access to confidential information.