Insider Threats Are Top of Mind With Security Pros, Not With the Enterprise

By | April 24, 2013

Posted in: Network Security Trends

It's the Devil you know.

Insider threats are a major security concern for security professionals, yet management is not always taking the proper steps to mitigate -- or even acknowledge -- risk, according to the findings of two recent surveys.

IT security vendor AlgoSec polled 179 information security and network operations professionals at the recent RSA Conference in California for their survey, "State of Network Security 2013: Attitudes and Opinions." The results reveal that the greatest threats are from within, with nearly 65 percent polled rating insiders as their biggest security risk, while 66 percent said that this threat was exacerbated by “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies that increase the potential for security breaches, including network and application outages.

“Increasing complexity in network security not only impacts an organization’s ability to protect itself from cyber-threats, but also hampers business agility,” AlgoSec said in a press statement. “Based on the survey results, it’s clear that organizations are faced with increasing insider threats as well as rising risk of network and application outages, but process improvement and better security policy enforcement that leverages automation can provide significant dividends.”

While insider threats appear to be top of mind with IT security pros based on the AlgoSec survey, employers, according to one recent poll, don't appear to have similar concerns.

A release issued last week by SIEM vendor LogRhythm on a poll conducted for them by OnePoll of 1,000 employers in the UK found that 80 percent of those  surveyed had complete faith in their employees and did not consider that they would steal or view any proprietary information. Which perhaps explains why 75 percent of those polled said they had no real "enforceable systems" in place to prevent employee access to sensitive company data.

This doesn't mean employees are without sin.

A corresponding LogRhythm survey of 2,000 employees found that "23 percent admitted to having accessed or taken confidential data from their workplace, with one in ten stating that they do it regularly."

Nick Cavalancia, VP of Marketing at SpectorSoft, a provider of Internet monitoring software, told Security Bistro that the disconnect regarding internal threats is something that most security pros are already well aware of.

“Reports put out by AlgoSec and LogRythm this week reaffirm what most in the cybersecurity field have always known, that employees are the biggest threat to data security and that most enterprises aren’t doing enough to defend against the insider threat.”

Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm reiterated those sentiments in a press statement, maintain that there is a clear gap between employer perception and employee behavior.

“In an era where data breaches are considered inevitable, and with the government urging for greater consideration of cyber threats within businesses, the amount of employers who are doing nothing about unauthorized access across their networks – and the even higher number who don’t perceive any risk at all when it comes to employee data theft – is staggering," Brewer said.

SpectorSoft's Cavalancia said that there are steps organizations can take to minimize risk, but they need to acknowledge that trusting employees to always do the right thing isn't a viable security strategy.

“While there is no voodoo in the business world that will stop employees from stealing sensitive corporate information, employers can face reality and acknowledge that information is at risk and start to proactively monitor employees digital activities and behaviors in an attempt to keep data from walking out the door,” Cavalancia added.

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