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Corporate Security Focus Deepens, Shifts to Insider Threats

Corporate information security practitioners are making a move toward a stronger focus on insider threats and more understanding of cybersecurity issues at the board level, research has revealed.

A survey from Ari Kaplan Advisors and sponsored by Nuix has found that more security officials are familiar with the proportion of the security budget their organization dedicates to managing and protecting the perimeter, versus responding to and remediating incidents. This year, 61% knew the breakdown of their security spending, compared to 54% in 2014.

The data also shows that there’s a greater focus on insider threats since the first report was conducted in 2014. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents reported that they have an insider threat program or policy, and 14% said that they allocate 40% or more of their budget to insider threats.

“Managing incident response and insider threats has received greater investment in the past year,” said one respondent. “There’s been a shift in allocation toward looking internally, rather than at the perimeter,” said one respondent, quoted in the report.

“We had in-depth conversations with chief information security officers and directors from Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies about the dynamic nature of security and how their role is adapting,” said Ari Kaplan, the report’s author and principal researcher. “Security leaders now have a much more influential seat at the table, partly because of the public nature of breaches and the lack of information security.”

People were reported to be “almost universally” the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes. Of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk. “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent.

“We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Kaplan.

There’s a confluence of factors that are bringing these issues and concerns to the forefront, according to Keith Lowry, Nuix’s senior vice president of business threat intelligence and analysis at Nuix.

“First, there’s greater awareness of insider threats thanks to the public profiles of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden,” he said. “It’s also easier to steal information; for example, you can copy key files onto a thumb drive in seconds. And finally, sadly enough, theft of internal records has become culturally more acceptable.”

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