August 28, 2017 By Shane Schick 2 min read

CISOs and their teams have suspected it for years, but new security breach research showed that nearly three-quarters of incidents are due to insider threats.

Security Breach Causes Point to Human Error

An e-book from Ipswitch, “Insider Threats and Their Impact on Data Security,” looked at data breach causes to find where rogue employees rank. The fact that insider threats have access to key applications, storage systems and other touch points makes them potentially even more dangerous than third-party cybercriminals who try to break in through malware and other mechanisms.

Not all insider threats are deliberate. In a survey of its attendees, organizers of the annual Black Hat security conference showed that 84 percent of cyberattacks reported had been due to human error, Computer Weekly reported. This could include failing to apply a patch, using easy-to-guess passwords or leaving physical devices in an unsafe area.

The same research showed 42 percent of security breach victims feel they have to figure out the cause by themselves, compared with 52 percent who work with consultants or other outside help. Just under 20 percent said they turn to colleagues for advice on data protection and risk mitigation.

Insider Threats Impact Public Sector

While insider threats can have big implications for almost any organization, the risks are particularly acute in the public sector, which deals with information essential to the daily lives of citizens.

The “2017 IT Risks Report” from Netwrix found that 100 percent of government workers surveyed saw their own employees as the most likely culprits during a security breach. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean malicious activity — 41 percent said such incidents are likely the result of human error.

Insider threats have been a talking point in cybersecurity circles for many years now, and the best practices to deal with them haven’t necessarily changed. Infosecurity Magazine pointed first to improving the way staff are educated about data protection, no matter what device or application they may be using for work purposes.

Policies that limit access, combined with employee education, are also important. Maybe once more organizations get a sense of how insider threats hit the bottom line, they’ll invest more in preventing these security incidents from happening.

More from

The compelling need for cloud-native data protection

4 min read - Cloud environments were frequent targets for cyber attackers in 2023. Eighty-two percent of breaches that involved data stored in the cloud were in public, private or multi-cloud environments. Attackers gained the most access to multi-cloud environments, with 39% of breaches spanning multi-cloud environments because of the more complicated security issues. The cost of these cloud breaches totaled $4.75 million, higher than the average cost of $4.45 million for all data breaches.The reason for this high cost is not only the…

What is the Open-Source Software Security Initiative (OS3I)?

3 min read - The Open-Source Software Security Initiative (OS3I) recently released Securing the Open-Source Software Ecosystem report, which details the members’ current priorities and recommended cybersecurity solutions. The accompanying fact sheet also provides the highlights of the report. The OS3I includes both federal departments and agencies working together to deliver policy solutions to secure and defend the ecosystem. The new initiative is part of the overall National Cybersecurity Strategy. After the Log4Shell vulnerability in 2021, the Biden-Harris administration committed to improving the security…

Widespread exploitation of recently disclosed Ivanti vulnerabilities

6 min read - IBM X-Force has assisted several organizations in responding to successful compromises involving the Ivanti appliance vulnerabilities disclosed in January 2024. Analysis of these incidents has identified several Ivanti file modifications that align with current public reporting. Additionally, IBM researchers have observed specific attack techniques involving the theft of authentication token data not readily noted in current public sources. The blog details the results of this research to assist organizations in protecting against these threats. Key Findings: IBM research teams have…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today