Faith MacAnas, technology blogger, Secure Thoughts
Faith MacAnas, technology blogger, Secure Thoughts

When it comes to data breaches, insiders can be riskier than outsiders, even when they aren't maliciously targeting your company. Since insider threats are responsible for 43 percent of data breaches, it is important for business owners to take the necessary steps to reduce the likelihood that an employee will be responsible for a cyber-security incident.

Control employee access to sensitive data

In 2015, unauthorised access was the leading cause of cyber-security incidents in the healthcare industry. While it doesn't stop authorised employees from using and abusing the privilege, controlling access does limit the number of people who have access to sensitive data. Employees may also be less likely to attempt to engage in data theft if they are aware that you can quickly narrow it down to a handful of staff members who could be responsible for any breaches.

There are several types of privileged accounts, so you can provide access on various levels. From domain accounts that allow employees administrative access for all workstations to local accounts that only provide single-serve access; you should assign different privileges to different staff. Every few months you should review the employees and their access. This will help you determine if there is anyone on staff who has access to sensitive data if they no longer need it.

Should an employee leave your team, wait two weeks before ensuring that all their work accounts are deleted and that their privileged access is revoked. Their email inbox should be reassigned to a manager, who can reply to emails on their behalf until a new employee is hired.

Ensure your staff members are properly trained

A significant portion of cyber-attacks are a result of negligent employee behaviour.Some staff behind cyber-attacks are not acting on malicious motivations; instead, they are responsible for cyber-security incidents due to a failure to practice safe online security measures. Online security training should teach your staff how to:

  • ·Utilise Anti-virus and Anti-malware Software: Staff should be trained to manage anti-virus and anti-malware software. It is important that they too run scans regularly and know how to proceed when malicious software is found.
  • Maximise Password Security:  Everyone in your office should use secure passwords that contain a mix of lowercase letters, capitals, symbols and numbers, and ensure that all passwords are different for every account that they hold.
  • Get Rid of Unnecessary Information: Establish protocols that inform staff members when they should dispose of information that is no longer necessary for your business.

Keep an eye on your staff

Monitoring software allows you to keep a close eye on your network, so you can see when sensitive data is being accessed and by whom. There is a wide range of options when it comes to network monitoring software. When choosing the right solution for your business, there are several factors that business owners should consider when choosing network-monitoring software, such as:

  • Scope: Do you need the solution at a single location or multiple locations? Will it be needed to monitor services as well as other network devices? You may also want to monitor remote sites and virtual environments.
  • Scalability: Consider your business development plans for the next few years. It is important that your monitoring software will be able to handle your company's technology as it develops and as your company grows.
  • On- or off-premises management: To enforce more specific policies with a more granular control approach, it is best to manage monitoring onsite while small businesses would be best suited for third-party monitoring options.

Remember – monitoring employees does not mean you must micromanage your team or invade their privacy. You can successfully keep a close eye on your staff's activities by engaging in the best practices for monitoring workplace activity:

  • Avoid placing monitoring devices in non-work areas, such as a washroom or locker rooms.
  • Be consistent so it does not appear that you are selectively monitoring employees.
  • Get legal advice before implementing a monitoring programme.

The key to preventing cyber-attacks caused by insider threats is keeping your staff educated while practicing strict controls and monitoring. You can certainly cut down on the likelihood of insider data breaches by being diligent to keep your company's sensitive information and employees safe.  

Contributed by Faith MacAnas, technology blogger, Secure Thoughts