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Build Your Insider Threat Program: A Practical Guide

Pathlock
November 10, 2021

What Is an Insider Threat Program?

An insider threat is when an individual with privileged access to an organization’s critical applications and sensitive information takes measures—on purpose or inadvertently—that leaves the organization open to threat. Because of their privileged status and authorized access to the organization’s resources, such insiders present a sizable risk to corporate health and stability.  

Many high profile breaches have been linked to insiders, meaning an insider threat process is a must for all organizations. Isolating and controlling such insider threats demands a measured and careful strategy. A successful insider threat program considers the dangers of insider threats as well as the requirements of the organization and its workers.   

In this article:

  • What Are the Goals of an Insider Threat Program?
  • How to Implement an Insider Threat Management Program
  • 5 Best Practices For Building a Successful Insider Threat Program
  • Insider Threat Protection with Pathlock

What Are the Goals of an Insider Threat Program?

There are four key aims of an insider threat program: 

  • Identify potential threats—insiders tend to show leading indicators like suspicious behavior and activity. You can use programs to help you identify these patterns and prevent them from ever becoming a reality.
  • Monitor insider threats—anomalous activities may be labeled as threats (including printing data or the copying of files) and cybersecurity teams can pay close attention to such actions.
  • Discover sensitive data —by defining the types of sensitive data that needs to be protected from insider threat, strategic programs can be created to identify interaction with type of activity. 
  • Enhance investigative abilities—after a threat action takes place, organizations must investigate the extent of the threat so they can remediate it. You can use programs to make it simpler to investigate insider threat behavior, by sourcing forensic activity information to extend your capacity to investigate threat behavior.

Related content: Read our guide outlining the most common insider threat indicators

How to Implement Your Insider Threat Program

When you create an insider threat management program, you should begin with the most sensitive resources. The program must identify critical assets and note which non-employees and employees are able to access them. 

Such a program should also take into account which non-employees genuinely require access and for what period. This list can be connected to threat attributes to ascertain which non-employees and employees are, or could become, a notable risk. The success of existing security policies can help further clarify the breadth of the program.        

An Insider Threat Management Program is a long-term endeavor. It is good practice to begin with a concise list of the top critical assets, and to note who requires access to them, who has access, and broaden the scope with time. Select a small group of non-employees—giving priority to those with privileged access and subsets of employees to carry out a pilot program. 

You can use your findings to expand the methodology throughout the organization. The scope of the initiative should cover: 

  • Any gaps in existing security policies
  • The significance of information security
  • The organization’s risk tolerance
  • Making sure that “least privilege access” rules are adhered to all through the identity lifecycle
  • How these details are tracked and audited 

The effectiveness of the program may be assessed according to:

  • Reporting and auditability
  • The minimization of orphaned and over-provisioned accounts
  • The operational success of overseeing the program
  • The overall ease of use for members of the initiative

5 Best Practices for a Successful Insider Threat Program

  1. Human intervention and response—insider threats are a human problem, so they often require different tools and approaches than other cyber threats. You can use technology to detect insider threats. But it’s essential to combine human factors in your defensive strategy—for example, user access reviews and access request approvals.
  2. Start with low-hanging fruit—an insider threat program can be controversial in the extra work and oversight it creates.  Successful insider threat programs require wide cooperation and buy-in within the organization. Start small, identify clear opportunities for improvement, and gain the support of organizations like HR and legal, who are strongly committed to employee matters. Gather data to demonstrate to management that the insider threat program can be valuable.
  3. Define use cases—make a list of specific insider threat scenarios within your organization. The scenarios should detail who is the malicious insider and what are their motives—for example IT personnel with a sabotage motive, financial personnel with financial motive, ex-employee with espionage motives. Prepare defensive measures for each scenario, including policies, procedures, and tools.
  4. Develop an investigation workflow—create a clear process to follow when you detect a suspected insider threat. Create a detailed playbook that will take the security analyst from initial data to confirmation of security incident, escalation, and response. Plan how to manage the volume of investigations, and how much analyst time is required.
  5. Make additional use of your data—an insider threat program can provide valuable data about dark areas in your organization. Leverage your data to assist other parts of the organization—for example, to expose shadow IT, indicate improper use of cloud services, over-provisioning of access, and so on. Also, look at insider threat incidents over time and provide insights to security leadership about their causes.

Insider Threat Protection with Pathlock

Pathlock provides a robust, cross-application solution to identifying and preventing insider threats.  Security, IT, and application teams can rest assured that Pathlock is providing complete protection across their enterprise application landscape. 

With Pathlock, customers can enjoy a complete solution to insider threat management, that can monitor user activity to prevent risk before it happens:

  • Integration to 140+ applications, with a “rosetta stone” that can map user behavior and business processes across systems
  • Intelligent risk scoring, showing users’ aggregate risk profile across all of their business system access
  • Transactional control monitoring, to focus time and attention on key violations specifically, applying effort towards the largest concentrations of risk
  • Automated, compliant provisioning into business applications, to enforce least privileged access and remove inherent access risk
  • Streamlined, intelligent User Access Reviews that highlight unnecessary or unused privileges for removal or inspection
  • Compliant workflows to drive risk mitigation and contain suspicious users before they inflict harm, including integration to SIEM platforms like Splunk, QRadar, and LogRhythm

Interested to find out more about how Pathlock is changing the future of insider threat management?  Request a demo to explore the leading solution for enforcing compliance and reducing risk.