How to Secure Networks or Data from Insider Threats?

It may come as a shock to learn that the greatest threat to a company’s network and data security comes not from outside sources, but rather from within. Rogue employees in a company essentially pose these insider threats. Recently terminated employees also pose roughly the same level of threat.

In a recent event, Block, a Cash App, faced a major data theft of about 8.2 million former and current users. The company was perplexed over the leakage and could not ascertain any reason for it. Upon further investigation, Block found that it was indeed an ex-employee who was the snake in the grass.

Insider threats are dangerous because rogue employees can learn the key protocols and potential weaknesses in the network of their employer. In some cases, hackers have paid people to breach data from their employer or even load malware onto machines within their employer’s network.

Today, data is the new gold. Not only a company’s success but also the privacy of clients is linked with it. Therefore, just like one protects gold, data also needs to be protected from all potential chances of a data breach.

Now, companies that want to keep their data safe from rogue employees should follow the following best practices.

1. Classification of sensitive data

This is one of the best ways to secure your network or data from rogue employees. An employee simply can’t steal it if he does not have access to it in the first place. A company must classify its data with respect to its sensitivity. Restrict access of your sensitive data to only what your employees need to do their job.

2. End Data Access upon Employee Termination

Disciplinary actions, company culture or being terminated can turn some trusted employees into rogue employees. As a result, they can seek revenge through data theft, data breaches or other nefarious ways. So, upon the termination of an employee, the data access must also end to prevent any kind of data breach. The procedure for terminating employees from data access should be included in your policy manual.

3. Change necessary passwords regularly

Passwords are meant to secure data from any kind of unwanted exploitation. However, as a company that deals with a lot of employees, hiring and firing is an ongoing part of daily corporate life. Keeping your passwords unchanged can become a potential loophole as an ex-employee who has gone rogue can exploit it easily. Therefore, you must change all necessary passwords on a regular basis in order to keep data breaches of any kind at bay.

4. Prohibit the use of USB drives and other portable media.

As a matter of policy, a company must never be allowed to bring any kind of portable storage device, such as a USB drive, to the place of work. This is the most common reason behind most of the data breach cases that have been reported in the recent past. Rogue employees can easily bring some portable devices in a stealthy manner to the workplace and commit data theft.

All the big data companies such as Google, Yahoo, etc. have this as part of their employee conduct protocols.

5. Managed Firewalls

For any network, a firewall will block unauthorized connections, filter out malware and limit employee access to nonproductive distractions. Managed firewalls evolve with the threats by receiving regular updates. They vigilantly monitor all traffic that interacts with your network. They will successfully stop all kinds of malicious software from affecting or even entering your network. When properly configured, your managed firewall can block access to games, inappropriate content, social media and personal email accounts. So, for the protection of your network or data from rogue employees, a managed firewall is necessary.

6. Disallow the use of personal devices for corporate work

Bring your own Device (BYOD) has become a rising trend in many small and medium-sized businesses in recent times. Although it brings convenience and less stress on part of the company’s resources, it has its own perils.

When you allow employees to use personal devices for official use, they hop between your applications and personal applications. Now, many personal applications don’t have a robust security system and therefore can easily be hacked. When such a situation occurs, a hacker can not only steal employees’ data and information, but the corporate data and sensitive information are also exposed.

Therefore, it is important that you disallow the use of personal computers for corporate work as far as possible.

Wrapping Up

The security of your corporate network and data lies in your hands. Taking the above steps will help secure your data against rogue employees and prevent data breaches.