Insider Threat Management

A Checklist for Preventing Insider Threat Risks

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There are times when learning about a new best practice can feel more like a burden than a benefit, despite your good intentions.

You have a routine way of doing things that may (or may not) work for you, but you’re satisfied. A process is already in place, and your day-to-day tasks are established. You don’t have the time or mental bandwidth to handle rethinking the way you do things from the ground up!

We’ve all been there. But sometimes the result is worth the time and effort investment, particularly when the cost of not doing the right thing is so high. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive checklist for preventing insider threat risks.

Our goal is to help you understand the major steps to take in order to understand where insider threat risks reside in (and outside) your organization, how to obtain visibility into their actions, and how to proactively coach and enforce cybersecurity policy.

7 Steps to Prevent Insider Threat Risks

When it comes to preventing insider threat risks, it’s all about the mean time to detect and remediate. By following the checklist steps that follow, you’ll be well on your way to following insider threat management best practices and building a strong Insider Threat Program!

  1. Know Your People ☑

    We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: insider threats are a people problem.

    Incidents are either caused by an insider with malicious intent, or an unintentional insider threat. If you are able to know and identify these users based on their intent, combined with knowledge into their data and systems access, you’re golden.

  2. Understand Their Needs ☑

    Once you know your people, work to understand their needs. Sit down with them periodically to understand their take on current cybersecurity practices. More often than not, potential insider threats just want to be able to do their job with no hassle.

    If you keep an open dialogue with the people behind insider threats, you can build a trust and rapport that may prove useful for enforcing policy (and ultimately prevent insider threat risks).

  3. Build a Team ☑

    Who do you get to solve a people problem? The right people! Building an Insider Threat Program team is a crucial step towards the goal of insider threat incident prevention. While team lineups may vary, a typical team includes: a program manager, operations lead, analysis lead, architect lead, and oversight and compliance professionals.

    We’ve found it helpful to bring in members of the Human Resources (HR) team to help assist with insider threats when they are detected or suspected.

  4. Construct a Plan and Process ☑

    This may come as some surprise but having a plan or process for preventing insider threats is important. But what exactly does this mean?

    In this context, having a plan or process means two things: road mapping implementation controls, solutions, and countermeasures; and developing an operating framework for actual governance and policy.

  5. Prepare a Playbook ☑

    By developing an Insider Threat Playbook, you are essentially documenting potential “causes” and “effects/reactions” that you expect to encounter.

    For example, if accessing cloud storage applications is against policy, you might list “Accessing Cloud Storage Apps” as a cause. The effect or reaction to someone accessing cloud storage apps might be: 1. Notifying the user of the violation, and 2. Noting the violation.

    A playbook can be a really helpful tool for rapidly responding to insider threat risks and incidents in a clear, transparent, and consistent way.

  6. Improve visibility ☑

    The first step to prevent insider threats once you have completed the initiation and development phases listed above, is to get visibility into what your insiders (or users) are doing.

    If you are capable of identifying and being notified about anomalous behavior in real-time, and then be able to deep dive into session video recordings and data, you’ll be able to tackle insider threat risks before they become incidents (and investigate incidents quickly if they occur). Insider threat management software tools are designed to give you this valuable visibility.

  7. Enforce Policy, Proactively ☑

    “I like to encourage people to realize that any action is a good action if it’s proactive and there is positive intent behind it.” – Michael J. Fox

    Which is better: to investigate an insider threat incident after it has happened, or react to trending actions and behavior beforehand? (That’s what we thought too.)

    By taking a proactive approach to policy enforcement, you can appropriately tackle a small issue before it becomes a big problem. And depending on the insider threat management tools you’ve deployed, you can stop each instance of a “risky” behavior and proactively coach the user in cybersecurity best practices.

The Right Tools for the Job

Now that you’ve got the checklist for preventing insider threat risks, it’s time to get the tools that will make the whole process even easier.

Proofpoint ITM is an insider threat management solution that empowers security teams to detect insider threats, streamline the incident investigation process, maintain compliance, and prevent data exfiltration. You can see Proofpoint ITM in action, by taking it for a test drive.