What Is Insider Threat Mitigation and How Can Your Company Benefit from It? (2023)

In today’s data-driven world, it is essential for businesses to protect their systems from malicious attacks. Insider threat mitigation is a security measure that helps to identify and mitigate threats posed by malicious insiders, such as employees or contractors with access to sensitive information. Read on to find out what insider threat mitigation is, why it’s important and how you can implement it in your business.

What Is Insider Threat Mitigation?

First of all, let`s remember what exactly is an insider threat. According to CISA, “insider threat incidents are possible in any sector or organization”. An insider threat is typically a current or former employee, third-party contractor, or business partner. In their present or former role, the person has or had access to the organization’s network systems, data, or premises, and uses their access (sometimes unwittingly).

As the name suggests, insider threat mitigation is all about preventing damage from insiders.Insider riskmitigationis the process of prioritizing, evaluating, and implementing risk-reducing controls and countermeasures in order to prevent insider-related risks or reduce the damage they cause.

Insider threat detection is no easy task for security teams. The insider already has legitimate access to the organization’s information and assets and distinguishing between a user’s normal activity and potentially anomalous activity is a challenge. Insiders typically know where the sensitive data is found within the organization and often have elevated levels of access.

What Is Insider Threat Mitigation and How Can Your Company Benefit from It? (1)

Types of Insider Threats

There are three primary types of insider threat: malicious, negligent, and accidental.

Malicious insiders are individuals who use their access to company information or systems for personal gain or to damage the organization. This type of insider threat is often difficult to detect because the individual may be skilled at hiding their activities.

Negligent insiders are employees who unintentionally expose company data through carelessness or lack of security awareness. For example, an employee may accidentally send an email containing sensitive information to the wrong person, or they may fail to properly secure their workstation when they leave it unattended.

Accidental insiders are individuals who inadvertently provide access to company systems or data to unauthorized people. For example, an employee may click on a phishing email link that gives attackers access to their workstation.

Insider threats can pose a serious risk to organizations, and it is important for businesses to have procedures in place to mitigate these risks. Some common mitigation strategies include employee training on security awareness, proper handling of sensitive information, and regular monitoring of system activity for unusual behavior, but more on that later.

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(Video) Insider Threat Mitigation


Benefits of Implementing Insider Threat Mitigation

There are many benefits of implementing insider threat mitigation in your business. By doing so, you can protect your confidential information and intellectual property from theft or misuse. Additionally, you can safeguard your company’s reputation by preventing leaks of sensitive information.

Moreover, insider threat mitigation can help you save money by deterring potential criminals from targeting your business. A study back in 2020 revealed that a data breach caused by an insider is significantly more costly for organizations than one caused by an external attacker. In the Ponemon Institute’s2020 Cost of Insider Threatsstudy, researchers observed that the global average cost of an insider threat was $11.45 million, while theaverage cost of a data breachover the same period was $3.86 million.

Finally, implementing these measures can give you peace of mind knowing that you have taken steps to protect your company. Find out below some of the best practices for mitigating insider threats.

Best Practices for Insider Threat Mitigation

Mitigating risks helps organizationsdetect and prevent insider threatsthat can lead to the realization of insider-related risks. The most common risks are loss of customers, reputational damage, as well as fines and penalties fornon-compliancewith cybersecurity laws, regulations, and standards.

There are different ways to go about mitigating insider threats.

  • One would be to increase security awareness and train your employees on proper security protocols. This way, they’ll be less likely to accidentally make mistakes that could put your data at risk.
  • You should also consider implementing technical controls to limit what insiders can do on your systems. For example, you could give them access to only the specific data and applications they need for their job, and nothing more.

Going further into determining the best practices when it comes to an effective insider threat mitigation strategy, we can summarize them as:

Employee Awareness and Training

Your employees need to be aware of the risks posed by insiders and how to identify suspicious activity. Additionally, they need to know what to do if they suspect that someone is attempting to commit an insider threat. Training can be delivered through a variety of methods, including online courses, in-person seminars, and printed materials.Establishing clear security policies and procedures that all employees must adhere to, is crucial to any organization.

Access Control

You need to thoroughly control who has access to your company’s information and resources. This includes both physical and electronic access. Only grant access to those who absolutely need it and keep track of who has accessed what. Monitor for unusual activity and investigate any potential red flags.

Data Protection

Make sure your company’s data is secure by encrypting it and storing it in a secure location. Implement strict controls on who can access this data and monitor for any unauthorized attempts to access it.Implementing technical controls such as data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to help prevent sensitive data from being leaked or stolen.

(Video) A New Approach to Insider Threat Mitigation

Furthermore, protect your most important assets. These assets can bephysical, like facilities or people, orlogical, like systems or technologies and, of course, customer data. You can achieve this by adopting a gooddefense in-depth strategy

Incident Response Plan

In the event that an insider threat does occur, you need to have a plan in place for how to respond. This plan should include steps for containment, investigation, and recovery.Responding quickly and appropriately to any incidents can mean revoking access privileges, suspending or terminating employment, and/or contacting law enforcement if necessary.

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Several notable factors that guarantee a successful insider threat mitigation program of all organizations, regardless of size and maturity level, are:

Know Your People

An organization must know and engage its people; this awareness enables an organization to achieve an effective level of personnel assurance.

Identify the Organization’s Assets and Prioritize Risks

Determine where the organization’s assets reside and who can access them. This knowledge allows a broader classification of each asset’s vulnerability and enables the development of risk-based mitigation strategies.

Establish the Approach of Detect – Identify – Assess – Manage

By gathering and investigating incident and threat information, assess and categorize those risks; then implement management strategies to mitigate the threats.

How CanHeimdal® Help?

Heimdal`s Privileged Access Managementenables you to quickly and easily elevate user rights or file executions, as well as revoke escalations and support zero-trust executions. Privileged Access Management has a simple and effective user interface that gives you complete control over a user’s elevated session. IT admins can use it to approve or deny requests from the Dashboard or from their mobile device, maintain track of sessions, restrict system file elevation, live-cancel user admin access, and create escalation periods.

Additionally, theApplication Controlmodule was carefully designed to limit which processes (or apps) can be run on client workstations, as well as how they are run. Using data such as Software Name, Paths, Publisher, MD5, Signature, or Wildcard Path, IT admins can construct a series of rules that explain what processes are allowed or denied on endpoints in an environment.

Heimdal’sZero Trustcomponent saves a significant amount of time for system administrators and, most importantly, it ensures limited access, increased compliance, simplification of addressing risks, helping customers to always be one step ahead of any cybercriminal – orinsider threat.

(Video) Insider Threat: Why it Matters

What Is Insider Threat Mitigation and How Can Your Company Benefit from It? (4)

What Is Insider Threat Mitigation and How Can Your Company Benefit from It? (5)

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(Video) Insider Threat Workshop - Best Practices in Insider Threat Mitigation

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Insider threats can be a major concern for any business, and it is important to have a plan in place to protect your organization from these threats. Regardless of how well-protected you think you are; a malicious insider might be hiding in the midst of your enterprise.

Insider threat mitigation strategies are essential in ensuring that the safety of your data and processes remains intact, while also providing employees with the tools they need to stay safe. With proper implementation of insider threat mitigation measures, organizations can successfully prevent malicious activities from occurring within their very own networks.

To protect your business from unsavory individuals, you should focus on two main aspects: technical controls and the human factor. With the right cybersecurity tools and procedures, as well as a strong company culture based around honesty, you will be able to successfully prevent this from happening to you.

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What is insider threat mitigation? ›

Insider threat mitigation programs are designed to help organizations intervene before an individual with privileged access or an understanding of the organization makes a mistake or commits a harmful or hostile act.

How does an insider threat impact a company? ›

Insider threats can cause a data breach, sensitive data leakage, production loss, and organization reputation damage. Due to all these factors, the organization's image is negatively affected in an investor's mind. A case of insider threat implies that the organization is not secure enough.

What are the advantages of insider threat? ›

An insider threat program can be used by your computer staff to recognize what suspicious behavior looks like, and work out what it could lead to. From fraud to data theft and even misuse of business assets, there are many forms of internal threats that can be prevented with this type of technology.

What is an insider threat definition and examples? ›

An insider threat refers to a cyber security risk that originates from within an organization. It typically occurs when a current or former employee, contractor, vendor or partner with legitimate user credentials misuses their access to the detriment of the organization's networks, systems and data.

What is the importance of threat mitigation? ›

Threat Mitigation is an essential component of an effective security profile, empowering businesses with the tools and strategies they need to identify, respond to, and remove network threats.

Why is it important for companies to plan for internal threats? ›

because internal threats are not considered as large of a risk as external risks. because internal attacks never make news headlines and are therefore underestimated. because any employee with access to internal data represents a potential security risk.

What are the 3 major motivators for insider threats? ›

Malicious insiders known as turncloaks knowingly take action to harm an organization. The insider could be an employee, a contractor or even a trusted business partner. Turncloaks could be motivated by financial gain, revenge or political ideology.

What are the 2 main types of insider threats? ›

The insider threat can be either unintentional or intentional. Negligence – An insider of this type exposes an organization to a threat through carelessness. Negligent insiders are generally familiar with security and/or IT policies but choose to ignore them, creating risk for the organization.

Why is the insider threat the biggest security challenge for an organization? ›

Insider threats are uniquely difficult to defend against because insiders inherently require an elevated level of trust and access to get their jobs done. For example, system administrators and other IT professionals may have a legitimate need to access sensitive systems and data.

Which technique is an important technique for insider threat management? ›

Threat hunting is one of the active methods to detect insider threats.

What are the three types of insider threats? ›

Insider threats come in three flavors:
  • Compromised users,
  • Malicious users, and.
  • Careless users.

What is the most common insider threat? ›

There are also several different types of Insider Threats and the “who and why” behind these incidents can vary. According to one study: Negligent Insiders are the most common and account for 62% of all incidents. Negligent Insiders who have their credentials stolen account for 25% of all incidents.

What are common indicators of insider threats? ›

The Early Indicators of an Insider Threat
  • Poor Performance Appraisals. An employee might take a poor performance review very sourly. ...
  • Voicing Disagreement with Policies. ...
  • Disagreements with Coworkers. ...
  • Financial Distress. ...
  • Unexplained Financial Gain. ...
  • Odd Working Hours. ...
  • Unusual Overseas Travel. ...
  • Leaving the Company.
Dec 15, 2022

What are the risks of insider threat? ›

Insider Risks are dangerous because every Insider Risk is a potential data breach waiting to happen. Insider Risks occur when data that is valuable and potentially injurious to an organization is exposed. This can occur with or without malicious intent on behalf of the insider who caused the exposure.

What are the benefits of mitigation planning? ›

What are the benefits of mitigation planning?
  • It allows individuals to minimize post-flood disaster disruptions and recover more rapidly. ...
  • It creates safer communities by reducing loss of life and property damage. ...
  • It lessens the financial impact on individuals, communities, and society as a whole.

What is the most effective mitigation strategy? ›

Limit: The most common mitigation strategy is risk limitation, i.e. businesses take some type of action to address a perceived risk and regulate their exposure. Risk limitation usually employs some risk acceptance and some risk avoidance.

What are the most effective mitigation strategies? ›

There are four common risk mitigation strategies. These typically include avoidance, reduction, transference, and acceptance.

What are two 2 security measures a company can take to curtail insider attacks? ›

Deploy and properly configure wireless intrusion detection and prevention systems, as well as a mobile data interception system. Regularly review whether employees still require remote access and/or a mobile device. Ensure that all remote access is terminated when an employee leaves the organization.

What are the benefits of doing threat modeling to an organization? ›

In addition, threat modeling helps reduce IT complexity by identifying unnecessary endpoints, software, or resources that can be eliminated. Prioritizing cybersecurity needs: Threat modeling helps organizations understand which threats require the most attention and resources in terms of effort or budget.

What are some of the best ways to reduce insider risks? ›

1) Deterrence: 62 percent of respondents from the Cybersecurity Insiders report said deterrence was an important strategy to help prevent insider attacks. Deterrence means ensuring you have good access controls, strong encryption on your data, and appropriate policies in place that deter and discourage insider threats.

What is an example of an insider threat policy? ›

Insider threats can originate from lack of awareness. For example, employees creating workarounds to technology challenges or using their own personal devices (i.e., bring your own device — BYOD) to access work emails can create new vulnerabilities within an organization's physical security processes and IT systems.

Which insider threat carries the most risk? ›

Compromised employees or vendors are the most important type of insider threat you'll face. This is because neither of you knows they are compromised. It can happen if an employee grants access to an attacker by clicking on a phishing link in an email. These are the most common types of insider threats.

What are two big challenges to controlling insider risks at your organization? ›

Top Challenges to Managing Insider Threats
  • Privacy regulations for behavioral monitoring. ...
  • Time to maturity. ...
  • Multiple monitoring solutions confusion.
Nov 16, 2021

What is threat mitigation? ›

Threat Mitigation is the process used to lessen the extent of a problem or attack by isolating or containing a threat until the problem can be remedied.

Which of the following mitigates insider threats? ›

Which activities help mitigate insider risks?
  • Create a cybersecurity-oriented corporate culture. ...
  • Engage the HR department to detect insider threats. ...
  • Limit access to sensitive resources. ...
  • Monitor user activity. ...
  • Speed up cybersecurity incident response. ...
  • Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to detect insider threats.
Jul 28, 2021

What are 4 mitigation strategies? ›

There are four common risk mitigation strategies. These typically include avoidance, reduction, transference, and acceptance.

What are the 3 mitigation strategies? ›

Examples of mitigation strategies include:
  • hazard specific control activities such as flood levees or bushfire mitigation strategies.
  • design improvements to infrastructure or services.
  • land use planning and design decisions that avoid developments and community infrastructure in areas prone to hazards.
May 24, 2021

What are four 4 network threat mitigation strategies? ›

The top four mitigations are: Application whitelisting; Patching applications; Patching operating systems and using the latest version; Minimising administrative privileges. This document is designed to help senior managers in organisations understand the effectiveness of implementing these strategies.

What are two types of insider threats? ›

The key here is that there are two distinct types of Insider Threats:
  • The Malicious Insider: Malicious Insiders knowingly and intentionally steal data. ...
  • The Negligent Insider: Negligent insiders are just your average employees who have made a mistake.


1. The Rise of Insider Threats and How to Prevent Them
2. CISA Webinar: A Holistic Approach to Mitigating Insider Threats
3. Insider Threats: Your Questions. Our Answers.
(Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University)
4. How to Detect Insider Threats
5. What’s next: trends in insider threat
6. Insider Threats: What can your business learn from the Federal Government? With Matt Shepherd
(MindPoint Group)


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