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.

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