Corporate Cybercrime – Insider Attacks
Guest Post By: Ramon Francisco.
Technology is getting more advance each day. As technology advances, the people who carry out threats and cybercrimes are also leveling up their games. However, there is one type of attack that businesses usually get caught off guard by, no matter how prepared they think they are. This type of attack is called insider threats.
Insider threats are attacks that happen because of someone affiliated with the company. It can be a current employee, a third-party vendor, or an ex-employee who still has access to your network. It can also be a business associate or a contractor that has information regarding your business’ data, computer systems, and even your security practices.
Statistics show that 34% of businesses around the world get infected by insider attacks every year. The cost of these attacks has soared up to $2.79 million by 2020. Noticeably, insider threats have shifted upwards in the past two years.
While experts have been speaking out and reminding businesses of all sizes of possible attacks, some business owners and managers focus only on the external factors that could bring mayhem to their companies. To be equipped with how to deal with these insider risks, which can even create more significant damage than outsider attacks, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of insider attacks.
Four Different Types of Insider Threats
1. The Oblivious Insider
This group of insiders is the employees who do not take notice of any awareness training exercises conducted by the company. Some of them may have even attended several cybersecurity seminars; however, they do not apply what they learned in their daily routine. Many experts consider this group as one of the riskiest groups in the organization as they can cause attacks repeatedly. Though this is only a small part of a workforce, the number of attacks being caused by them is quite alarming.
According to cybersecurity experts, though, these oblivious insiders often do not intend to be negligent. Even so, it is these employees who are likely to experience an attack repeatedly. Since they are not proactive and they do not respond to the call to secure data and be mindful of malicious activities, those who have already been a victim of phishing or social engineering are the ones who are most likely to fall for it again.
2. The Accidental Insider
Also called the careless employees, the accidental insiders are those who may have usually followed security protocols and complied with company policy regarding cybersecurity, but still causes data breaches in isolated cases. These breaches may have resulted from simple carelessness like leaving a computer unlocked or forgetting to close a system down so that outside threats can penetrate.
Even a basic misjudgment of your employees can turn them into an unwitting pawn. An attack can happen when employees store credentials on insecure storage or accidentally click a malicious link or attachment. In recent years, some of the most prominent cases of data breaches in cyber history have been to do with the unwilling victim who acted as a bridge for cybercriminals.
3. The Malicious Insider
This type of insider threat wants to cause mayhem in your company by stealing or deleting your data intentionally. It may involve an employee that has an ongoing rift with the upper management, a contractor who wants to sabotage your business, or even an ex-employee who wants to carry out an act of revenge on you as their former employer.
The reasons for doing this kind of attack may vary, but stealing information for personal gain or selling it on the black market are among the most common grounds for insider data theft. One of the most infamous cases of a malicious insider attack is from the engineer of Boeing named Gregory Chung. Chung was found guilty after he used his security clearance at the said company to trade information in China for a fortune.
As an employer or an immediate supervisor, watch out for the red flags, like when your employee signs in at work in the early hours of the morning, like 2 am or 3 am, and transfers a large volume of data via a personal network, or accesses unknown sites and resources.
4. The Professional Agent Insider
The professional agent insider is an employee who intentionally steals data from the company on behalf of outsiders that pay the employee loads of money for the stolen information. Though this kind of insider attack less common than the other types, its growing numbers have been highlighted by cybersecurity practitioners.
The cybercriminals who practice this kind of activity recruit employees inside the organization and have those employees initiate nefarious acts for them. Attacks launched by a professional agent insider, who can be considered as a mole in the company, are often the costliest. They are also often the hardest to detect by the management.
There is no company yet to have come forward and claimed to be attack-proof, and there is no prototype for you to copy for your business to make it immune to insider attacks. What you can do, though, is prepare for attacks and take extra precautions with your confidential information. Even if your business is only comprised of one or less than five employees, so long as you hold valuable, you can be prone to an attack.
So, keep your guard up and install all the necessary cybersecurity software to make your firewall as secure as possible. Invest in the best cyber protection there is in the market, but most importantly, work with your best defenses – your employees, because they may be the weakest link when an insider attack occurs. Even so, your employees can also be turned into your most significant asset to combat any attack and become your company’s most reliable link.
Ramon has been writing about technology trends, entertainment, and gaming ever since he left the busy world of corporate HR Tech behind. He currently writes about software and user experiences for Softvire Australia – the leading software e-Commerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand. In his spare time, Ramon writes science fiction, collects little yellow men and plastic spaceships.