Half of IT Pros Say Insider Threats Are a Bigger Concern Than Hackers

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Cybercriminals often try to infiltrate companies from the outside, but about half of security pros are more concerned with threats creating havoc from the inside.

A survey from Dimensional Research, commissioned by Preempt, reveals that 49% of IT security professionals are most concerned with insider threats.

In terms of the type of insider threat, a lack of worker awareness is top-of-mind: The majority of security professionals (87%) are most concerned about naive individuals or careless employees who bend the rules to get their job done; only 13% are more concerned about malicious insiders who intend to do harm.

Malware installed unintentionally by employees was the top concern of respondents (73%), ahead of stolen or compromised credentials (66%), stolen data (65%), and abuse of admin privileges (63%).

“Internal threats are emerging as equally as important as external threats, according to respondents. This means that an employee cutting corners to get their job done more efficiently is viewed as potentially just as dangerous as a malicious external hacker,” said Diane Hagglund, founder and principal of Dimensional Research. “Yet these views aren’t reflected in the allocation of security budgets, which is traditionally focused on perimeter security.”

On a related note, the report also analyzed cybersecurity training and end-user engagement programs. While 95% of the companies surveyed provide end-user security training, only 10% believe the training is very effective. However, 66% see value in providing real-time training and feedback when an end user does something they shouldn’t.

End user engagement is critical to the success of all security programs: 81% say end-users are willing to learn in theory, but only 25% say employees are willing to put in any real effort towards that goal.

 “Intentional or not, insider threats are real,” says Ajit Sancheti, co-founder and CEO of Preempt. “From Snowden to the FDIC, headlines continue to emerge and we need to take a new approach to get ahead of insider threats. Without real-time prevention solutions and improved employee engagement, these threats will not only increase, but find more sophisticated ways to infiltrate and navigate a network. The future of security practices relies on the ability to not only understand users and anticipate attacks, but also how to mitigate threats as quickly as possible.”

Unfortunately, security teams need additional solutions and approaches to help protect from insider threats. About 64% of respondents describe their security team as having necessary skills, but noted they’re overworked and under-resourced. Case in point: About 91% report insiders have access to systems they shouldn’t, but 70% can’t effectively monitor privileged user activities.

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