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What Motivates an Insider Threat to Act Against Their Organization?

Insider Threat Motivations

The motivations that turn a potential insider threat into a real one can be complex, but understanding them can help you protect your organization and data.

In the world of insider risk management, we talk often about the need for a data-centric strategy. This idea places data security at the forefront of all decision-making and is necessary for a program to have success. However, neglecting the human side of the insider threat equation could make your job much harder. Understanding the factors and motivations that turn someone into a potential, or a real, insider threat can be greatly beneficial in helping your team identify and mitigate risks. So what motivates an insider threat to act against their organization? There are two primary categories based on intent – malicious and unintentional.

Malicious Motivations

An insider threat with malicious intentions knows that they want to damage their organization through their actions. They tend to realize this because of one or several reasons, some of which can be very personal. However, the most common reasons are:

  • Financial – Money is a major motivating factor for many people. If an employee is financially strained or is looking to make their situation better, they may choose to exploit their position within your organization for their own monetary gain. This feeling can also be exacerbated if the employee feels as though they are not being paid fairly for the work that they do.
  • Emotional – Situations within a work environment can create feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, and more. When this happens, an employee might be more likely to lash out at their employer and become an insider threat.
  • Political – Political motivations aren’t nearly as common as emotional and financial ones, but state-sponsored insider threat attacks have been known to occur from time to time and should be considered more or less serious threats depending on your industry.

Unintentional Motivations

Believe it or not, the majority of insider incidents are caused through unintentional action or inaction by employees. And the good news is that these motivations can be mitigated through the work that your insider risk management team does in educating your employees. The most common reasons why an employee becomes an unintentional insider threat include:

  • Poor Training/Knowledge – Whether the employee in question is simply not good with technology or your policies are too technical in nature to be understood, poor training and lack of knowledge of best practices can lead to major incidents if not addressed properly.
  • Misplaced Tech – The shift to a more mobile and agile work environment can be a boon to productivity for your organization, but it can be a nightmare for your data security if devices are misplaced, left out in the open, or not properly secured. This point is becoming increasingly more important thanks to the sudden shift to remote workplace environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact ITMG to Assess Your Current Capabilities and Develop Strategies and Protocols Designed to Help Your Company Mitigate Your Insider Risk

ITMG is an industry leader in helping organizations throughout the United States strengthen their insider risk management programs and secure sensitive data and intellectual property. Our team of bona fide experts has the real-world experience necessary to plan out and create holistic security solutions tailored to the special needs and risks in your industry. Contact ITMG today to learn more about how we can help! You can also visit our FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn pages for more updates and insights into the world of insider risk management.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 26th, 2020 at 1:37 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.