Why is it important to identify potential insider threats

Cyber threats continue to rise and develop in both sophistication and danger. With over 83% of data breaches involving external actors, cyber threats like hackers and malware often grab headlines, however, insider threats can be equally, if not more, devastating. Insider threats stem from employees, contractors, or anyone with inside access to an organization’s systems and data, making them harder to detect and prevent.


About insider threats

The term “insider threat” refers to the risk posed by individuals with privileged access to a company’s systems or data, such as employees, contractors, or other personnel. These individuals may use their access or knowledge to misuse or mishandle sensitive data.

There are two types of insider threats:

  • The unintentional insider
  • The intentional insider

What are the motivations for insider threats?

Different factors could drive insider threat actors. Usually, malicious insider actions are motivated by personal gain or corporate or state-sponsored espionage. Some of the most common global motivations include the following:

  • Monetary gain
  • Reputation damage
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Espionage


Importance of identifying insider threats


Insider threats usually cause severe and costly damage to an organization. Businesses need to acknowledge the potential harm of insiders, as their actions could be devastating on different levels. The average annual cost of insider threat incidents in 2023 is estimated at $18.33 million, demonstrating the significant impact of these threats on the financial level. And the consequences of a data breach caused by an insider goes beyond financials.

here are some other consequences of insider threats:

  • Loss of sensitive data. Insiders with access to critical data could leak or steal it for personal or financial gain.
  • Reputational damage. Insider incidents can cause irreversible damage to the organization’s reputation. This type of harm requires a lot of effort and resources to repair.
  • Business operations disruption. Insider threats can lead to business disruption, lost productivity and revenue.
  • Legal and regulatory consequences. Organizations can face legal action from individuals or regulatory fines due to failing to protect sensitive data.

As cyber threats continue to evolve and compromise organizations’ data security, it is important to prioritize investment in robust security measures. Embracing security training, creating a culture of trust, and taking proactive steps can significantly reduce the risk of both external and insider threats and protect people and assets.

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