Close this search box.


Insider threat

What is an insider threat?

An insider threat is a security risk that originates from within an organization. It typically involves employees, contractors, business partners, or other individuals who have inside information concerning the organization’s security practices, data, and computer systems. These threats can be malicious or unintentional.

Who is most likely to be an insider threat?

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute on insider threats, negligent insiders are the most likely insider threat, accounting for 62% of incidents. Stolen credentials are often the consequence of negligence, either resulting from employees clicking on malicious links or not following basic security practices like installing the latest software updates or enabling 2FA. According to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, about one-fifth of cybersecurity incidents involve insider threats.

Why are insider threats dangerous?

Unintentional insider threats are dangerous because they can lead to unauthorized access to business applications and information that can lead to follow-on attacks like ransomware.

Malicious insider threats are especially dangerous and difficult to stop for two reasons. First, the perpetrator may have extensive knowledge of an organization’s security policies, business processes, and response strategies. Additionally, an insider can often circumvent cybersecurity measures and directly access the network. The fallout from a successful insider attack is especially worth noting: recent research shows often up to five times more data is stolen in this type of breach.

What are the types of insider threats?

There are two main types of insider threats:

  1. Unintentional threats can occur due to negligence or are accidental. Negligent insiders typically choose to ignore security policies. Accidental threats occur when an insider mistakenly causes harm to the organization, such as opening a malicious attachment or unintentionally sharing sensitive information.
  2. Intentional threats, also known as a “malicious insider” are when an insider knowingly causes harm to the organization, either for their own  gain, or to act on a personal grievance.

Other insider threats include collusive threats – intentional threats where insiders collaborate with an external threat actor to harm the organization, and third-party threats – contractors or vendors who have access to sensitive data, facilities, or systems.

Why is it important to identify potential insider threats?

Insiders have access to an organization’s most sensitive data. Taking a zero trust approach to identifying potential insider threats, whether intentional or unintentional, can limit the scope of a possible cyberattack.

Insider threat detection hinges on spotting concerning behaviors, a task achieved through a blend of technology and keen observation by staff. Identification and management of such threats not only safeguard critical assets but also foster a culture of security awareness and vigilance within the organization.

 What advantages do insider threats have over others?

The main advantage insiders have is that they already have authorized access to an organization’s systems and data. This means they don’t need to breach initial security barriers as external attackers do. Aside from access, insiders have knowledge of the organization’s operations and processes, allowing them to navigate the internal systems more efficiently and identify valuable data or weak points. Lastly, the activities of insiders might not raise immediate suspicion since they are expected to access and work with company data.

What is an early indicator of a potential insider threat?

There are several early indicators of a potential insider threat:

  • Shadow IT – The use of unapproved apps or services that can’t be effectively monitored by the security team.
  • Unusual logins – Work accounts being used outside of the normal working hours.
  • Sudden resignation – Resigning employees are at a heightened risk of being an insider threat since they don’t have much to lose.

How does SpyCloud help organizations prevent fall-outs from insider threats?

While the most damaging insider threats stem from malicious employees or former employees, they can also result from negligence. To stay ahead of unintentional insider threats, SpyCloud helps organizations by illuminating what credential information criminals have about your business and your customers. With SpyCloud, you can monitor for compromised credentials for all accounts across your domain to reduce the risk of account takeover and follow-on ransomware attacks. SOC analysts also use SpyCloud Investigations to research the level of insider risk of specific users based on their activity in recaptured breach and malware records.

Table of Contents
Check your darknet exposure

[2024 REPORT] The biggest identity threats to have on your radar. Read Now

Close this search box.