What Is Considered Insider Threat?

An insider threat includes any malicious activity that comes from within – from users that have access to an organization’s network, their applications, or their databases. The users might be current employees, former employees, or even third parties like partners,…

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An insider threat includes any malicious activity that comes from within – from users that have access to an organization’s network, their applications, or their databases.

The users might be current employees, former employees, or even third parties like partners, contractors, or temporary workers. All they need is access to the organization’s physical or digital assets.

Such threats are a big problem for everyone – that’s because they’re not easy to detect. Think about it – the people you’re looking for have legitimate access to systems and data; they’re not like the cybercriminals who have to fight against security policies and anti-virus software.

After you learn more about insider threats, their methods, and their motives, you’ll be better equipped to handle a situation involving them.

Types of Insider Threats

An insider threat is always a person who has legitimate access to your networks. They might exfiltrate data for their own personal gain, or they might accidentally leak information. Either way, the data is out there.

There are three main types of insider threats:

Malicious Insiders

Malicious insiders intentionally steal data for their own financial gain, because they’re holding a grudge, or to get a competitive edge.

Negligent Insiders

Negligent insiders are everyday employees who’ve made a mistake. Someone may have sent an email to the wrong person that includes sensitive information, fallen for a phishing scam, or lost their work device.

Compromised Insiders

A compromised insider is one who has been infected with malware. Their device can now act as the home base for cybercriminals, where they gain access to files and infect other devices.


A malicious insider threat can use their authorized access or knowledge about the organization to harm the company – affecting its integrity, confidentiality, data, personnel, or facilities. A negligent or compromised insider may cause the same harm – just unwittingly – by providing the opportunity for a cybercriminal to carry out the actions.

Insider Threat Damage

The insider will use their authorized access, whether they know it or not, to harm the company. The threat has the potential to manifest as damage through behaviors like:

  • Espionage
  • Terrorism
  • Unauthorized disclosure of information
  • Corruption
  • Sabotage
  • Workplace violence
  • Loss of resources/capabilities


Fighting Insider Threats

While insider threats are a major danger to your system, there are ways to prepare your employees with the knowledge to combat them. Here are the four main areas to focus on:


An informed employee can do their part to keep your organization safe. During training, focus on cybersecurity; but don’t leave it as a one-time thing. Instead, conduct routine anti-phishing and phishing awareness training.

One of the most effective techniques is for organizations to send phishing emails out to their users and focus on the employees who click on the malicious links. Concentrating on those people will reduce vulnerabilities and reduce the number of people who may fall victim to acting as a compromised insider.

You should also train your employees to spot risky behavior among their peers and, if they do see it, to report it to HR or IT security.

Coordinate IT Security and HR

If you coordinate HR and IT security, it will prevent the IT team from becoming blindsided by events like layoffs. If IT security can put disgruntled employees on a watchlist and monitor their behavior, they’ll be able to stop issues before they start. HR can also warn the IT team about employees that were not given a raise or those who were passed over for a promotion and may be tempted to take it out on the organization.

Create a Threat Hunting Team

Most competent companies create a threat hunting team. Instead of only reacting to events after they’ve occurred, threat hunting takes a proactive approach and stops the problems before they start. Members of the IT team watch for signs like those who were skipped for a promotion or a raise, employees who were laid off or furloughed, and prevent an issue before it starts.

Implement User Behavior Analytics

User Behavior Analytics (UBA) is when you track, collect, and analyze user and machine data to find threats within your organization. By using these tactics, you can differentiate suspicious behavior from normal behavior by collecting data over a period of time. This data gives an idea of what normal user behavior looks like, so the system can flag behavior that doesn’t fit the pattern. The great thing about using such technology is that it can spot the signs of compromised insiders before they begin to cause damage.

Staying Safe From Insider Threats

The truth of the matter is that insider threats are here to stay. But, if you know how to spot them and protect your company against them, you will have a much lower risk of falling victim to an attack.

Barricade Cyber Solutions provides all-encompassing protection against cybercriminals – insider threats and otherwise. Contact us today for more information.


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