February 2024 - Tackling Insider Threats in a Remote Work Environment
  • 27 Feb 2024
  • 3 Minutes to read
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February 2024 - Tackling Insider Threats in a Remote Work Environment

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Article Summary

Remote work environments pose many challenges for chief information security officers and other cybersecurity professionals, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, we covered some of those challenges CISOs have had to handle, but this time we are going to focus on one of the most pressing issues cybersecurity have had to tackle: Insider threats.

The human element is perhaps the most vexing problem cybersecurity professionals must solve. While CISOs can create and implement the best security practices they can for their organizations, human behavior is a factor that cannot always be predicted. Even the most strict security measures can be undermined by people.

Cybersecurity professionals must understand the risks of insider threats and take the best course of action to mitigate any improper activities, especially since many cases do not involve intentionally malicious activities, but rather innocent, yet still costly, mistakes.

What Are Some Insider Threats to Know?

To start, let’s look at some of the insider threats cybersecurity professionals should know about in a remote work environment:

  • Falling For Phishing Attacks: Remote workers may end up falling victim to phishing attacks, where they may be tricked into turning over sensitive information to malicious actors. In some cases, cybercriminals will pose as a high-ranking executive and ask employees to turn over valuable data, login credentials or even money, by claiming they need an employee to send these assets over to remedy a nonexistent problem.
  • Leaking Data: Employees may end up leaking valuable information by sending it through unsecure channels, such as their personal email or via a file-sharing platform.
  • Unauthorized Data Access: Employees may be able to remotely access sensitive information or systems beyond their authorization level.
  • Unsecured Personal Devices: Should employees use their own personal devices to conduct business activities, organizations run the risk of cybercriminals stealing sensitive information if the devices are not properly secured or monitored.
  • Malicious Employee Activity: Organizations can also lose sensitive information when disgruntled employees intentionally steal information for their own personal gain. This may include employees conducting insider trading activities, which could leave organizations at legal risk.
  • Physical Security Risks: In a remote work environment, organizations run the risk of losing valuable data when physical devices are either stolen or lost.

How to Protect Your Organization From These Threats

Remote work is very convenient for employees, but as we just highlighted, it can bring a lot of headaches for CISOs and other cybersecurity professionals.

To protect your organization from these insider threats, here are some steps you can take to ensure your remote workforce operates safely:

  • Enforce Authentication Measures: Implement dual factor authentication whenever possible. The extra authentication measure is a good way to protect your organization’s systems from unauthorized access.
  • Implement Strong BYOD Policies: Now that most remote work is being done on personal devices, it’s important to set up strong bring your own device (BYOD) policies. This may include strict requirements for software updates, device encryption and remote wipe capabilities.
  • Monitor User Activity: Set up the proper systems to monitor user activity to see whether any employees are engaging suspicious activity or are accessing any systems they shouldn’t.
  • Restrict Data Access: Put in place restrictions to ensure employees can only access the resources necessary for them to do their job.
  • Create Employee Trainings: Cybersecurity professionals should provide regular training for employees to educate them on emerging cyberthreats and other cybersecurity best practices.
  • Conduct Regular Security Audits: By creating and conducting regular security audits, cybersecurity professionals can ensure their organizations are complying with security policies and standards, and also allows them to address weaknesses to minimize insider risk threats.

Most employees are not going to intentionally place their organization at risk, but the aforementioned steps are incredibly important for CISOs to put in place.

Employees need to be informed about the potential harm they can inflict on their organization when they handle sensitive information and access important systems.

By keeping employees educated on these risks, as well as implementing strict cybersecurity measures, CISOs can minimize these insider threat risks and keep their organizations in great shape as the paradigm shift to remote work continues.

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