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The Threat Posed By Malicious Employees (Questions/Answers) Thu, Aug 2,18  

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A disgruntled employee can mean more than a bad review on Glassdoor.com – with access to your data, they can cause a lot of damage.

Malicious Employees (And The Damage They Cause) Aren’t A Myth!

At first glance, the thought of an internal threat posed by a business’ employees can seem laughable. Especially to the managers and business owners. They know their staff members, right?

These are people who see each other every day. They get drinks after work here and there. They ask each other about their lives. How likely could that kind of security threat really be?

An “inside job” – it can seem more akin to a bad lifetime movie, or schlocky thriller plot. But the reality? It’s far more common than you could imagine.

The Truth About Insider Security Threats

The fact is that other security threats – malware, ransomware, phishing, viruses, etc. – simply have more traction with the public’s attention than an insider threat does. WannaCry is the biggest cybercrime story of the century, and will likely hold on to that title until the next external-threat-based incident makes the news.

Why?

Because it simply makes more sense. It’s easier to imagine a lone hacker sitting in a basement, targeting a business with their home-brewed cyber weapons than it is to think about what a disgruntled employee might do once they build up the nerve.

Despite this contradiction, the fact is that insider threats are the cause of the biggest security threats, and often cost the most to fix after the fact. According to both the Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of Inside Threats Study and the 2017 Insider Threat Report:

  • Of 874 reported incidents, 191 were caused by malicious employees
  • 53 percent of polled companies estimated their remediation costs at $100,000 or more, and 12% estimated more than $1 million

How Are Insider Threats So Damaging?

There are a number of factors that contribute to the frequency, damage and potential of malicious insider threats, but the three key aspects are:

  1. Depending on how duties are assigned, what form of supervision is present, and how often employee (or even ex-employee) work is audited, the damage they cause can take a long time to discover. Often, the longer it has been, the harder the damage is to reverse.
  2. Once discovered, the response can be difficult to execute. The employee in question can often easily claim it as a mistake, or (and again, depending on the division of labor and supervision) can even appear to be doing their job as usual if they’re considered the “expert” in that work.
  3. In any case, poor management policies usually leave the door open for disgruntled employees to do damage. Low-level staffers given admin access, third-party vendors provided with authority for data they don’t actually need, and login credentials for recently terminated staff members are all common and dangerous occurrences.

Now, while all that may be true, statistics are rarely as convincing as they should be. But what about something more real and personal? Allow me to share a story…

A few years ago, a chamber of commerce in a mid-sized Midwest town had a run in with a malicious staffer. Though nobody had any reason to expect it, one day she simply decided to do some damage. She came in to work, turned on her computer, and proceeded to delete each and every company folder and file she had access to.

Having done what she planned, the employee walked into her supervisor’s office, quit her job and walked out the door. By the time someone had noticed what she had done, she was long gone.

Luckily for the chamber of commerce, they had CloudJumper on their side. As soon as they noticed that their files were gone and realized how it had happened, they called us (in a bit of a panic, obviously). So, was it a long, drawn-out recovery process? Did it cost them somewhere from $100,000 to $1 million in damages? Nope! Within a few minutes, we were able to restore each and every file they thought they had lost, simple as that.

This is just one of the many benefits of working with CloudJumper and our Cloud Workspace® solution – by the very nature of the technology, a secure and recent backup of each and every file is ready for end customers when they need it. Regardless of whether a disgruntled employee tried to wreak havoc on their way out, or an absent-minded staffer accidentally caused some data loss, we have them covered.

Like this article? Check out our other posts like The Effect of Employee Negligence on Company-Wide Security, CloudJumper At Microsoft Inspire – “Productive” Is An Understatement, or CloudJumper Names New COO and CTO to learn more.