Insiders Biggest Threat to Systems

Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 03:01 PM gHale

Outside threats have the potential to cause damage to organizations, however, the reality is insiders are the most serious threats, new research found.

Knowing that, however, federal agencies, much like the private sector, devote the most concern and resources to malicious external threat sources, according to a survey by IT software management company SolarWinds.

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SolarWinds conducted an online survey of 200 federal IT professionals in conjunction with research firm Market Connections to investigate insider threats to federal cybersecurity and gauge federal agencies’ confidence and ability to combat external and internal IT security threats.

Over half of those surveyed — including 55 percent of Department of Defense (DoD) respondents — identified careless and untrained insiders as the greatest source of IT security threats at their agencies, the survey said.

This is a jump from the 42 percent of respondents identifying accidental insiders as a top security threat in a similar survey conducted by SolarWinds last year.

Also, in this day of Stuxnet, the Target and Home Depot attacks, nearly half of those surveyed said they are not ready to respond to the IT security challenge.

Nearly half of the respondents said government data is most at risk of breach from employees’ or contractors’ desktops or laptops, followed by phishing attacks (49 percent), data copied to insecure devices (44 percent), accidental deletion or modification of critical data (41 percent) and use of prohibited personal devices (37 percent).

While former defense contractor Edward Snowden’s massive leak of classified information in 2013 raised awareness of the potential damage a malicious insider can cause, 56 percent of respondents believe breaches caused by accidental insiders are as damaging as or more damaging than those caused by malicious insiders.

However, investment to curb the insider threat is falling short. Although careless/untrained insiders beat out malicious external sources, such as hackers and terrorists, as the top security threat, the survey found concern and investment still focus on external threat sources.

Respondents identified threats including a high volume of network activity, lack of IT staff training, growing use of cloud services, pressure to change IT configurations quickly more so than securely, use of mobile devices, cost of sophisticated tools, and growing adoption of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD), the survey said.

To mitigate the accidental insider threat, half of the respondents said internal security training is a crucial tool. Other top tools to prevent accidental insider threats include identity and access management (39 percent), internal threat detection and intelligence (36 percent), intrusion detection and prevention (32 percent), SIEM or log management (31 percent) and network admission control (31 percent).

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