Every organization has valuable data to protect, whether in the form of customer data, intellectual property, trade secrets, or other forms. And these organizations have employees that need to access that data in order to do their jobs properly. Recognizing and planning for these specific scenarios is a key tenet of risk management, especially since the threat that insiders can pose is always present. Not every user in your network will turn into an insider threat, it’s true – but identifying your high risk user scenarios helps you put plans in place to minimize the likelihood of an insider event occurring. And it’s especially important considering the resource limitations that nearly every security team faces. So let’s take a closer look at how to identify your organization’s specific high risk user scenarios.
Every organization has a hierarchy of access to sensitive data where some users will naturally require more access than others. For example, the IT department at the average company will have more internal systems access rights simply because their job requires it. Unfortunately, this also means that those with more access are greater risks for your organization. And while a lot of attention is given to employees who turn into willful insider threats, don’t minimize the threat that accidental insider incidents could pose to your organization. Everyone makes mistakes, or forgets key policies, or skips key parts of your security procedures because they need to make a deadline. This type of high risk user scenario is relatively easy for security teams to identify – you’ll know from looking at the privileges being doled out on the network who your privileged users are.
The second type of high risk user scenario is tougher to identify and manage. Vulnerable users pose a risk primarily due to some personal reason, such as financial. These users are prone to being manipulated by a third party to use their insider access to damage an organization. While it seems unlikely, the facts bear out that this can and does happen at high-profile organizations. This scenario is very difficult to identify, but your team can manage with a proactive approach to security. Activity monitoring, both on the user and the data sides, can put in a lot of work here. These tools will help your team recognize normal activity from your user base and identify instances of data movement or access that require further investigation.
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