Imagine the biggest threat to your SMB’s cybersecurity. You are probably picturing a hacker sitting in front of a screen in a distant basement. In reality, the biggest threat is sitting right around the corner from your desk.
Insider threats are the leading cause of cyber incidents at all businesses. Evidence shows that up to 90 percent of breaches can be traced back to some type of human behavior. This is important to understand, because hacking is often seen as highly technical. In reality, it relies mostly on social manipulation and con artist tactics. It may not be sophisticated, but that doesn’t stop it from being effective.
It’s essential for SMBs to solve the problem of insider threats. Otherwise, cybersecurity will never be confident or consistent. The solution begins by understanding how and why different types of insider threats exist:
Employees have direct access to data and security controls. That puts them in a powerful position to intentionally compromise a company. Employees could be motivated by personal profit or simply disgruntled by their employer. In either case, however, they can do a lot of damage with very little effort. It’s possible to discourage bad actors by instituting strict access controls and user monitoring.
There are a number of cyber-attacks that are carefully designed to deceive users. They use mimicry, lies, and psychological tactics to get users to click links or download attachments. And since the deception is so subtle, users unsuspectingly infect their own employer’s network. Instead of finding a way to disable security, hackers simply trick someone to unlock the door. This becomes much less of a problem with comprehensive training and education. When users are able to spot red flags and suspicious signs the number of successful attacks drops dramatically.
Some attacks are caused by users who simply underestimate cybersecurity. They misunderstand the size and scope of the threat. As a result, they engage in practices that are risky and reckless. For instance, using a weak password across multiple platforms makes it especially easy for hackers to crack. These users don’t intend to put the company at risk, but their disregard for basic security has exactly that effect. Again, cyber security education is the best remedy. Once users commit to policies and best practices there are far fewer vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.
Insider threats include both employees and outsiders. SMBs often share digital assets with suppliers, clients, and partners. That means they share strengths/weaknesses in network security as well. When a third party is compromised, the infection can easily jump between companies. Sometimes, the first target is just a means to attack someone different. Vetting potential partners based on their security protocols is one way for SMBs to inherit less risk.
The more accessible IT is the less secure it becomes. This is a constant tension in business IT, and its why insider threats will always be an issue. There is much that SMBs can do to reduce their vulnerability. Unfortunately, there is nothing they can do to eliminate it entirely. For that reason, minimizing the damage of insider threats is just as important as avoiding them.