How to Prevent Insider Data Breaches in your Business

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Insider data breaches are one of the biggest risks to your business in the cyber security world and organisations are increasingly realising the need for security solutions to help protect themselves and prevent any data breaches, internally or externally. 

A data breach can potentially expose confidential, sensitive or protected information from your network. Most people assume that most data breaches are caused by an exterior hacker, but often that isn’t the case. Insider data breaches are a big threat to businesses, either accidental or intentional. 

SecureTeam are cybersecurity experts and provide a wide range of cybersecurity consultation solutions to a variety of businesses. They have used their extensive knowledge of internal network security to write this guide to help businesses protect themselves from insider data breaches. 

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Who is Responsible for Insider Data Breaches?

Insider data breaches pose a significant threat to your organisation and can come from a variety of sources, including:

  • An Accidental Insider – this is when an employee exposes confidential data accidentally through negligence or bad practice. Examples include writing passwords down, not locking screens, not reacting to security threats, or falling victim to social engineers. 
  • Social Engineers – social engineers are cybersecurity attackers that rely heavily on social interaction with employees where they manipulate them into breaking standard security procedures to gain access to confidential information. 
  • Lost or Stolen Devices – data breaches occur when devices such as an unencrypted laptop are stolen or goes missing. 
  • Opportunist Hackers – hackers who use a variety of attack vectors to try and gather information from your network are a threat. Hackers can use opportunities such as weakened or deactivated security caused by unpatched or un-updated software to strike. 
  • Malicious Employees or Insiders – this is an employee or contractor who intentionally either leaks or steals confidential data. A malicious insider might have legitimate access to the data but has the intent to use the data to cause harm to the company or to an individual. 

Methods Used in an Insider Data Breach

Although a data breach can be the result of an innocent mistake they can cause real damage to your business or organisation. In this case, it is more about the methods used by those who exploit those innocent mistakes or negligence of insiders. 

Malicious outsiders will carefully research their victims first, learning what their vulnerabilities are, such as missing security updates or employee susceptibility to social engineering. Once they have discovered their targets weak points they will launch their attack, attempting to get an insider to accidentally download malware or attack the network directly. 

Once an attacker has gained access, they will have plenty of time to search through the confidential data stored, as the average breach can take over 5 months to detect. 

Malicious outsiders and insiders will often make use of these commonly used methods, including:

  • Stolen Credentials – most data breaches are the result of stolen or weak security credentials. If a malicious attacker has your username and password then they have access to your whole network. People often re-used passwords, which can allow attackers to gain access to emails, accounts, and other confidential information. 
  • Third-Party Access – you might have invested in up to date cybersecurity and take protecting your confidential data seriously, but what about third-party partners? Attackers could gain access to your system through a third party with a weakened security system. 
  • Compromised Assets – attackers will attempt to compromise certain assets, which allows them to negate standard steps that would normally protect your network, providing access to confidential data

How to Prevent Data Breaches

There are a few ways you can help prevent insider data breaches through best security practices, including:

  • Encrypting All Sensitive Data – keeping all confidential and private information encrypted and secure is a fairly obvious step.  But it is important to check that encryption and to keep your cybersecurity up to date. 
  • Keeping Software Patched and Updated – by keeping your software up to date you can prevent attackers from launching an opportunistic attack against your network. 
  • Make Use of Strong Credentials and Multi-factor authentication – by ensuring your system doesn’t allow concurrent logins, you can prevent an attacker from using stolen credentials to gain access to your network at the same time an employee is using the system. You can also restrict access to the network by physical location to prevent offsite access. 
  • Educating Staff on the Best Security Practices – by teaching employees how to avoid accidental leaks and socially engineered attacks you can reduce your risk. This includes teaching them the threat of shared passwords and not to divulge confidential information. 

In Conclusion

The risk of an insider data breach will continue to pose a threat to businesses and organisations across a variety of sectors.

Most organisations will come under attack at some point, but by taking the threat seriously and following the best security practices, you can reduce your risk of that attack turning into an insider data breach. 


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