Insider Data Breaches: A New Nightmare

By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.

When it comes to finding new ways to protect yourself against data breaches, there are many important factors to consider; human error is the biggest one. Often times when we discuss data breaches, the focus is centered on an outside group of cybercriminals invading a company’s privacy and networks. But what if we told you that not all data breaches are caused by outsider activity, and instead, were inside jobs? Here’s an overview of what insider data breaches are and why they can be just as dangerous.

What is an Insider Data Breach?

All companies have an important promise to keep when it comes to the community it serves and to its employees – protect data and private information. With that in mind, let’s break down what can happen when things go wrong internally.

An insider data breach usually occurs when data is shared to personal systems and leaked to competitors and cybercriminals. According to an article published on Tripwire that provides insight from the Egress 2020 Insider Data Breach survey, “insider threats can be accidental or intentional, but the impact of insider breaches remains the same. Negligence at the organization regarding data privacy requirements and compliance can cause catastrophic data loss.”

This type of data breach includes many elements, but human error is the main characteristic. Human error is natural, and often times accidental, but can be detrimental to an organization if it is not handled properly. According to Security Brief, “misdirected and phishing emails are the top cause of accidental insider data breaches.” If an employee is not careful with how they open, share, use or report information, intruders will use it as an opportunity to attack.

How Dangerous are they?

The danger of an insider data breach depends on many things including the source and level of intent behind the attack. The Egress survey found that “78% of employees put data at risk accidentally in the last 12 months, while 71% of employees accepted that they or a colleague had inadvertently shared the organization’s information.”

Whether putting data and the privacy of information at risk was a mistake or intentional, employees must realize how big of an impact it can have on the business. The occurrence of a data breach has the power to take down an entire organization financially. It is important to equip your employees with all the tools and knowledge needed to avoid these types of mistakes – assuming that there is no malicious intent when human error occurs.

Stay Protected and Aware

In efforts to protect your organization and its data, all departments within your company should be made aware of and trained on privacy protocols because even the slightest error can cause irreparable damage. Lack of awareness and real-time detection alerts can be a dangerous catalyst to a successful breach.

Here are three major takeaway tips you can use to ensure that you are investing in proper risk management practices:

  • Create Risk Management Policies: Create proper and strict polices, trainings and protocol(s) for your employees and members to follow when sharing important information.
  • Security Analytics Platforms: Invest in a next-generation security and compliance automation platform to help monitor your networks 24/7 and provide detection alerts on account activity in real-time.
  • Proper Onboarding and Off-boarding Practices: Ensure that when an employee begins or ends their employment, any new or prior access to information is handled appropriately. For example, if an employee is being offboarded, have steps in place to revoke any former account (or network) privileges. Also, passwords need to be changed, keycards deactivated, etc.

At the end of the day, the goal is simple: prevent data breaches. It is every employees job to do their part in protecting both private and personal information. Insider data breaches are only as powerful as the source of its initial breach, so use this time to proactively prepare the consequences that could follow a simple human error.