Most enterprises helpless against insider threats: survey

Security vendor SpectorSoft has announced the results of a survey of 355 IT professionals regarding their experiences with the prevention and detection of insider threats within their organizations.  The survey revealed an overwhelming majority of organizations are unable to detect or deter insider threats, leaving them vulnerable to fraud, data breaches and IP theft.  Sixty one per cent of respondents said they do not have the ability to deter an insider threat. Another 59 per cent admitted they do not have the ability to detect an insider threat, while, 75 per cent stated that they do not have the ability to detail the human behavioral activities of an insider threat. These last two statistics are surprising since insider threats originate from some type of human criminal behavior.

Even more alarming, 61 per cent of respondents do not believe they are adequately prepared to respond to insider threats.

The nature of insider threats—an authorized person misusing his or her authorization—makes it difficult to detect such attacks and protect against them. While the percentage of insider threats has stayed broadly consistent in the last ten years, the total number of such attacks has increased dramatically, resulting in $2.9 trillion in employee fraud losses globally per year. In the U.S. alone, the most recent year on record, organizations suffered $40 billion in losses due to employee theft and fraud—but chances are that even more fraud went undetected.*

Evidence suggests that just 10 per cent of employees account for 95 per cent of incidents, which indicates that the vast majority of employees are trustworthy. But it’s hard to know who these employees are and how to prevent threats, especially because, according to the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, “most insider misuse occurs within the boundaries of trust necessary to perform normal duties.”

The Verizon report also laid out interesting statistics related to insider threats. According to the report, some of the top industries facing insider threats are real estate, transportation and manufacturing. However, all industries are at risk if they do not have the proper precautions in place. Insider espionage targeting internal data and trade secrets is becoming a bigger issue, with more and more companies having their sensitive data exposed as a result of not being in a position to deter, detect and detail malicious behavior. Privilege abuse, unapproved hardware/software (BYOD), email misuse and data mishandling are some of the behaviors putting companies at risk, the report concluded.

The number-one inhibitor in dealing with insider threats  cited was a lack of available technology solutions, with 55 per cent of respondents choosing that option. Half of the respondents claimed not to have the budget needed to support such initiatives, and about a third of respondents stated that a lack of staffing prevented them from being adequately prepared to respond to insider threats. A lack of internal staff and training was also mentioned as a big challenge (36 per cent).

“These statistics paint a bleak picture when it comes to securing company data against insider threats,” stated Rob Williams, chief marketing officer at SpectorSoft. “With so many data breaches happening, C-level executives are coming to the realization that their jobs could be on the line if company data isn’t protected. Proper defense must include a comprehensive security solution, and with humans involved, education is just as key. The market is ripe for a new approach to internal security.”

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