In part 1 of the post on how Insider Threat Awareness is a vital component of Security Awareness, I talked about the different types of insider threats and some of the steps that security teams can do to protect themselves and educate employees.
This week I want to explore whether that is enough and some tips for how to approach introducing Insider Threat Awareness training in your organization.
To recap, at a high level here are some of the things security organizations can do:
- Use User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) to monitor behavior and actions
- Control user access and use two-factor authentication
- Have fewer privileged users
- Create a security culture of awareness
- Know your users and watch for behavioral changes
- Perform background checks on all users
- Educate employees about security
- Address cyber security in SLAs
Is this enough?
In a white paper (well worth reading in its entirety) about insider threats in nuclear security systems, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AMACAD) noted that there are deep organizational and cognitive biases that lead managers to downplay the threats insiders pose to their nuclear facilities and operations. Could insider threats be the elephant in the security room? Some of AMACAD’s findings are broadly applicable to many organizations and several may prompt you to re-evaluate your insider threat strategy:
- Organizations that consider their staff to be part of a carefully screened elite can lead management to falsely assume that insider threats may exist in other institutions, but not in their organization.
- The belief that personnel who have been through a background check will not pose an insider problem is remarkably widespread—a special case of the “not in my organization” fallacy. There are two reasons why this belief is mistaken. First, background checks are often not very effective. Second, even completely trustworthy employees may become insiders, especially if they are coerced.
- High-security facilities typically have programs to monitor the behavior of employees for changes that might suggest a security issue. Security managers often assume that severe red flags warning of problems will not go unnoticed. But if individual incentive systems and information-sharing procedures encourage people not to report, even the reddest of red flags can be ignored.
- Security-conscious organizations create rules and procedures to protect valuable assets. But such organizations also have other, often competing, goals: managers are often tempted to instruct employees to bend the security rules to increase productivity, meet a deadline, or avoid inconvenience.
- Prevention of insider threats is a high priority, but leaders and operators should never succumb to the temptation to minimize emergency response and mitigation efforts in order to maintain the illusion that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Insider threat awareness training
Insider threat awareness is a vital component of security awareness. The need for training and education is making news headlines:
- The deadline for Federal contractors to complete insider threat training programs prior to being granted access to classified information under a Department of Defense rule change passed on May 31.
- Harvard Business Review asserts that the best cyber security investment you can make is better training. C-level executives, board directors, shareholders, and other senior leaders must not only invest in training for their firm’s own employees but also consider how to evaluate and inform the outsiders upon whom their businesses rely — contractors, consultants, and vendors in their supply chains. Such third parties with access to company networks have enabled high-profile breaches, including Target and Home Depot, among others.