How To Secure Your Assets Against Insider Threats?

How To Secure Your Assets Against Insider Threats?

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by Alex Noah — 9 months ago in Security 3 min. read
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Preventing against insider threats is a collaborative effort. Combining available solutions, approaches, technologies, and techniques creates a web of fortification that cannot only spot but prevent instances of nefarious insider activity.

Ultimately, it comes down to knowing your data, establishing policies so users have to respect that data, and putting safeguards in place so that when they don’t, your technology won’t let them get too far.

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Know your data

Before you can implement any policies or protective measures, you must first draw an imaginary line around what data you are protecting. This might be reminiscent of the ‘perimeter’, but this version is more categorically based.

The first step is to classify your data. Data classification is the act of identifying, sorting, and organizing your data so it’s easier to store, retrieve, and use later. Being able to easily manipulate it will be key to enacting policies that throw protections around it in the future.

Next, find a solution that analyses employees’ user behavior. While this typically comes after policy creation, it is also a form of knowing your data. Without AI-driven tools that differentiate malicious patterns from benign ones, companies are in the dark about the nature of much of their data – leading them to let the bad in with the good. Properly attuned behavioral analytic solutions parse out dangerous traffic and let you know what you’re really working with.

Data-protective policies

Now, it’s time to draw a line around your sensitive information so nobody from the inside can touch it (illicitly). There are several ways to do this.

Privileged Access Management (PAM), both on-premises and in the cloud – is essential for defining who can access what, when. Without this backbone of “accessibility right and wrong”, preventing insider threats becomes mushy as defense isn’t built on policy but on trial and error – mostly error. Once you’ve identified all application, service, administrator, and root accounts across your environment, you can secure them and cut down on privileged account sprawl. It’s not that every employee with too much access is a bad actor – it’s that the attack surface widens exponentially with each such case, and exponentiates the damage an external attacker can do if they hack a typical user’s account.



Ransomware protection is another way to make sure insiders aren’t entering through other means. It doesn’t always take elevated privileges to detonate a ransomware attack – just the right opportunity. Ransomware-preventive technology identifies vulnerabilities (that insiders may know before you do) and minimizes the impact of any related foul play, either by insiders or others.

Offensive security solutions are the key to making sure your protective measures have had their intended effect. It’s one thing to create security statutes in a vacuum – it’s another entirely to see how they work against real-world risk scenarios. These exercises allow you to vet and repair broken systems, patch exposed vulnerabilities, and shore up your internal defenses before a disgruntled – or careless – employee puts them to the test.

Automated exfiltration prevention

Proactive Insider Risk Management is a game-changer for teams struggling to get insider risk under control. It spells the difference between all “gas and no go” and an insider threat prevention strategy that really has teeth.

The “proactive” part refers to technology that doesn’t just detect attacks, but stops them. Some insider risk management technologies do this; some don’t. You just have to be wary about which ones you choose: Implementing a platform with Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capabilities means that your technology can give your SOC a hand and autonomously prevent unauthorized data egress.

To build up an insider threat prevention strategy without a way to carry out on best practices is to have no insider threat prevention strategy at all. That is why this step is so important.

There is still a shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers in the field, to the tune of 3.4 million unfilled positions. That means that there is a large likelihood that companies of all sizes are still struggling to deliver on the security promises made when budget is allocated, and tools are bought, and compliance measures are met, and governance is established. It’s one thing to have a great insider threat prevention approach on paper – it’s another entirely to have the ability to carry it out.

Proactive, autonomous measures like automated exfiltration help solve this problem. By stopping the threats your SOC might not have time to get to, they ensure the wheels on your internal security bus keep going around, leaving you and your team time to put out your next security fire.

Protecting your internal assets from internal threats is a tall task. It comes with a bit more nuance than external cybersecurity, and practitioners walk the sharper edge of the knife as privileged IT users were popularly considered the greatest underlying threat to security. However, with the right mindset, the right data awareness, the right policies, and the right technologies to see them through, insider threat mitigation is possible.


Alex Noah

Alex is senior editor of The Next Tech. He studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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