How to Keep Confidential Company Data Safe from Malicious Employees

In the past few years, organizations have acknowledged that malicious (disgruntled and untrained) employees are one of the greatest sources of security breaches.

July 29, 2017
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Sometimes the greatest security threat to the enterprise is not external.

In the past few years, organizations have acknowledged that malicious (disgruntled and untrained) employees are one of the greatest sources of security breaches. Their activities often fly under most corporations’ radars.

According to a report by Mimecast, 90% of global organizations consider malicious insiders a major threat to the security of their corporations. 45% also stated that they’re unprepared to deal with this threat.

By focusing predominately on outside threats and perimeter security, global corporations struggle with the risk coming from their own offices. Fortunately, there are measures owners can take to make their companies more resilient to security breaches involving malicious insiders.

 1. Move Important Data to Highly-Secure Computers

Most computers in your organization will have some form of confidential data that should be kept within the company. Insiders could steal this data in their BYOD devices if it’s not password-protected, attach malware to important files, and cause other kinds of damage. Due to these reasons, it’s better to move such data to highly-secure computers, ones that only very trusted and vetted staffers have access to.

Encrypted storage devices from SecureUSB.com and other websites of similar nature give upper-level stakeholders the ability to transfer data under AES encryption. For instance, encrypted flash drives can store your data under an encrypted PIN, which malicious insiders would then require to access the contents of the device. Some vendors offer devices with an integrated antivirus tool that prevents malware from infiltrating the device. Moreover, some new offerings give the option to restore the data from the cloud, even though it’s stored locally on the device.

2. Incorporate Monitoring

Boosting your organization’s monitoring capability will help you understand how employees are putting confidential information at risk. Implementing it organization-wide will enable the IT department to detect signs of abnormal behavior, such as accessing confidential folders after office hours or opening ports. Understanding employee behavior is key to educating or sanctioning employees pertaining to the risks they’re taking, unwittingly or knowingly.

In addition, you can pair monitoring with automated responses to reduce human error risks. For instance, there are CRM solutions that scan emails not only for malware, but phishing patterns; erasing loopholes that allow social engineering before they pose a threat to enterprise security. Ultimately, monitoring coupled with such measures will mitigate human error and make employees more aware of their actions’ consequences.

3. Take Measures to Make It Challenging/Impossible

Malicious employees are more tempted to break in when confidential information is not protected adequately. Ensure that you have appropriate protection measures implemented like strong login password and 2-step verification. Suspicious staffers should be allowed to operate on the least privilege, meaning that they can only use data and applications that are relevant to their position. Terminate files, folders and accounts that don’t pertain to their duties.

You can also have a notice in the computer room clearly stating the company’s Acceptable Use Policy. It should tell employees that the company has the right to monitor activities, whether on corporate-owned or private devices and networks. During the onboarding process, educate employees about this policy, and have them sign a statement saying they understand it.

With these measures, malicious insiders would think twice before making an adverse move.

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