Insider threats can cost your organization millions of dollars or hurt its reputation. This is why you should never allow malicious and negligent employees to misuse their access to your organization’s confidential information.

Since insider threats are a lot more dangerous than outside threats, an organization must develop a comprehensive security policy to protect against the misuse of privileges.

In this article, we explore some of the best ways to troubleshoot insider threats. Before that though…

What are insider threats?

These are security risks to an organization that originates from within the organization. They occur when users with legitimate access to company resources and information misuse that access to harm the organization, whether unintentionally or maliciously.

Insider threats can either be employees, former employees, contractors, third-party vendors, or partners who have access to sensitive information or company systems.

Types of insider threats

There are different types of insider threats depending on the motivation and intent of the person involved. The common types include;

Negligent workers

These are insiders who put your organization at risk unintentionally by behaving in insecure ways. For instance, employees who exercise bad judgment such as leaving sensitive documents or unencrypted devices containing confidential information unattended. These actions are not always malicious but they can put your organization at risk.

Security evaders

Organizations design security measures and controls to protect their information, employees and ensure their survival. However, these policies are considered a hindrance to employee productivity.

For this reason, some employees may adopt security workarounds such as saving work files in their drives to make work easier and faster. These shortcuts can put your organization at risk if the files are compromised.

Malicious insiders

These are insiders who hold a grudge against your organization and decide to act on it by selling sensitive information to competitors, deleting crucial data, or engaging in other acts of sabotage. They commit these negative acts with the goal of financial or personal gain.


These are contractors, vendors, or suppliers who have access to your company’s network and systems. These partners may have flaws in their systems that open vulnerabilities to cybercriminals and other attackers.

How to Troubleshoot Insider Threats

Some of the best practices to avert insider threat include;

Train your staff

Organizations that perform diverse security training on their employees, significantly reduce the risk of negligent acts causing harm to the company. Research indicates that over 20% of employees are susceptible to phishing campaigns.

By using a wide range of simulated campaigns to educate users on insider threats, you will help them identify the common forms of phishing attacks thus minimizing security risks.

Employees are your organization’s greatest strength and weakness. Providing them with the training they need to recognize fishy and careless acts will go a long way in preventing malicious and involuntary security risks.

Manage offboarding users

Off-boarding users include terminated employees, employees who have changed roles or projects within the organization, and those who have left willingly. In most companies, manual systems are used to control the offboarding of employees.

These systems are not only inefficient but result in dormant and orphan accounts that allow disgruntled employees to access or destroy confidential information.

Organizations need to employ advanced measures to terminate all of a user’s credentials and access when they leave the organization or change projects to ensure that unauthorized employees do not have access to sensitive data.

Implement user activity monitoring (UAM) tools

Monitoring user activity is easily the most effective countermeasure to insider threats. Continuously analyze behavior anomalies and patterns to ensure that privileges are not being misused both inside and outside the network.

The best UAM tools analyze massive amounts of information to provide valuable insights into what is happening in the organization in real-time.

You might need to develop system usage profiles that accurately detect behavioral changes in users such as biometric analysis of mouse movements or anomalies in the duration and number of sessions. This process is then automated for optimum effect in organizations that have many employees where you’re reviewing millions of activities and events.

Control 3rd party access

Security breaches can occur when third-party partners are compromised and the hacker uses that access to get into your organization. Access by third-party partners must be controlled carefully to ensure that unauthorized users are not trying to poke around.

Always remember that you don’t have access to their environment, so you can never fully trust them in yours. Besides, you are never sure if they follow the same security measures that your organization uses.

How safe is your company against insider threats?

With today’s hybrid and remote work environments, insider threats can do a lot of harm to any organization. As said earlier, insiders pose a more serious risk than even external hackers because of their easier access to the network systems and greater opportunity window. Implement the measures and tools we outlined in this post to stop possible attacks and any harm they might cause.

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