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Your Biggest Data Security Threat May be on Your Payroll

Blog | Altitude Networks, July 27th, 2021

In the current cybersecurity threat landscape, all businesses need to take data security threats seriously. Companies deploy firewalls, antivirus, email protection, advanced threat protection, and more to keep the data in their networks safe. And, certainly, no business owners are giving threat actors their own logins and passwords, taking images of their fingerprints for two-factor authentication, and allowing them to decide who has access to cloud documents containing sensitive data.

Or are they?

Statistically, your business faces as much of a data security threat from internal actors – employees, managers, directors, and contractors – as from external threats. The team that you employ and entrust to protect the data your business requires to operate and provide customer service could also, through negligence or malicious intent, put it at risk. 

Intelligent CIO reported on a study which found that 52 percent of businesses were challenged with insider threats attacks from 2020 to 2021.

What is at Risk?

The first step in creating a plan to protect your data is to perform a threat assessment, identifying all the categories of sensitive and mission-critical information your business uses. Types of critical data assets include:

It’s easy to see the potential risks from employees who work with specific data types to create vulnerabilities if they’re careless with login credentials or file sharing. However, remember that if your organization hasn’t aligned policies with the Principle of Least Privilege, it may be possible for any employee – or even a contractor – to put any or all data at risk.  

The Challenge of Finding Insider Data Security Threats

Giving employees access only to the information they need to do their jobs is an important step in lowering risks to data security, but it’s also necessary to monitor where data is used and shared. Tasking management with this responsibility is a tall order. 

Even the most dedicated managers can miss the fact that an employee seated at a workstation could be uploading large amounts of company data to their personal cloud accounts, selecting “anyone with the link can edit” access in an attempt to simplify collaboration, or accidentally sending a link to contractors’ personal email addresses rather than the email accounts your business established for them. 

In a digital world, it takes technology to provide the continuous monitoring necessary that critical and sensitive data doesn’t leave your organization. Some businesses conclude that the answer is to deploy behavior monitoring software. 

These solutions are often rules-based, either comparing activity to policies that the IT team sets or using machine learning to spot anomalies. One problem here is that an employee’s actions may not fall outside the norm but still put data at risk – for example, a malicious insider may share a file with a person with a white-listed domain but without approval to see the category of data it contains. 

Also, legacy solutions produce lengthy reports rather than AI-powered insights, so they require a member of your security team to review the data on employees’ activities. And, if they catch noncompliant or risky behavior from the information in the report, it’s after the data breach has occurred. 

A Solution that Effectively Alerts You to Insider Threats 

Fortunately, you have the option of implementing an intelligent data loss prevention (DLP) solution developed specifically to protect data in the cloud. Natural language processing, a type of AI, enables the software to understand the categories of data your business uses – and which datasets must be guarded against negligent or malicious sharing or uploading. Also, instead of giving your employees the impression that Big Brother is watching, which many behavior monitoring solutions can do, an intelligent DLP solution works in the background, watching data, not your employees. 

Furthermore, if the solution should detect that an employee shared or uploaded critical data, it notifies you in real time, giving you the chance to intervene, remediate, if necessary, and stop a data breach. 

The ROI of this type of solution can be significant. In its 2020 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report, Ponemon states that the cost of a data breach caused by negligence is $370K on average, and that number more than doubles if the insider has malicious intentions, with those data breaches costing businesses an average of $756K per breach. 

An intelligent solution exponentially increases your ability to stop data breaches from insider threats and prevent the costs, downtime, and loss of reputation that come from them. 

For more insights on insiders’ activities and behaviors that put data at risk and how to stop them, download our whitepaper: Internal Threats: Malicious Intent and Taking Risks with Sensitive Information.

Ready to learn more about how Altitude Networks can protect your sensitive files?

Ready to learn more about how Altitude Networks can protect your sensitive files?