What is an insider threat?
CISA defines “insider threat” as
”the threat that an insider will use their authorized access, wittingly or unwittingly, to do harm to the department’s mission, resources, personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks, or systems.”
They can be categorized into two categories: Intentional and non-intentional.
Intentional -These are the ones who previously worked, or are currently working, in the organization abusing their privileges and permissions to steal sensitive contents such as user data, product blueprints, and other confidential items.
Unintentional - Those who have been victimized by wrongfully leveraging their accounts, knowledge, and specialized processes to gain a competitive advantage or with malicious intent.
Detecting these insiders proves very difficult and generally takes time to triage. There are numerous ways to reduce and prevent these insiders from succeeding; however, proper off-boarding of the employee is simple yet effective. We have translated these simple steps into a playbook, and they can be customized in any form to meet the specific processes and policies of the organization.
Insights into Insider Threats
Notable Insider Threat Incidents
The onboarding process is a formal procedure for welcoming new employees to an organization. It encompasses all the necessary paperwork, including the assignment of training (both HR and security awareness), the allocation of new devices, cubicles, and other relevant processes. Subsequently, an account will be created, and roles or function-based rights and permissions will be assigned. We are automating these crucial workflows as an onboarding playbook.
The playbook begins by creating a new user with the information provided in the trigger, which could be fed from the HR ticketing systems. Once the account is successfully created, we move towards adding the user to the distribution groups. We refrain from adding the user to department production groups at this stage. Typically, this task is handled by the reporting manager after completing other formalities such as training, and background checks.
Microsoft Teams is gaining traction, and it's free to use; hence, most organizations are using it for their official messaging application. The user is added to the Teams channel and with the welcome email, the onboarding process is completed.
Off-boarding is the formal exit process for employees. This includes deallocating the roles and responsibilities of the employees, returning owned devices, and disabling the account. This proper flow structure makes it a perfect automation case.
The playbook starts with retrieving all the groups that the user has been associated with. The user is removed from the groups, including the teams. The user's existing logged-in sessions across all devices and browsers are revoked.
All the devices owned by the user would be listed and removed, and a successful offboarding email would be sent to HR, the manager, and IT with the owned devices. This eases HR's task of knowing the devices that need to be collected from the user before they are finally signed off or escorted.
Although these playbooks are an important first step in countering insider threats, we have only just begun to explore all of the possibilities. We are continuously working to automate the employee lifecycle in a number of areas, including transfers, entitlement management, notice period employee monitoring, and more. Through the integration of these extensive procedures into the playbook, our goals are to minimize mistakes, shorten reaction times, and lower the possibility of collusion.
These workflows and their associated playbooks will be featured in our upcoming blogs. Stay connected for more information.
Insider threat incidents are on the rise, and with organizations laying off workforces, the situation has been exacerbated. Our playbook demonstrated above, facilitates the seamless management of tasks such as role de-allocation, account disabling (including remote access, VPN, and local accounts), and handling security clearances, if applicable. By implementing our playbook, customers can achieve these processes flawlessly, minimizing the risk of human errors.
Security devices or technologies like DLP, UEBA, and EDR would actively monitor the employee's activity and thwart any unauthorized data transfer or access to confidential items. It is a complicated and mammoth task to monitor every employee; however, it is essential to monitor employees on notice periods as well as consistently low performers. Admin and Privileged employees' activity must be logged and closely monitored while investigating any anomalies promptly. Further, it is the organizational responsibility to inform the departing employee of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or non-compete agreement (NCA) during the exit interview.