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Has GDPR Impacted Insider Threats?

According to new research from Clearswift, the introduction of GDPR has led to a slight drop in insider threats in both the UK and Germany. Survey respondents said that insider threats make up 65% of reported incidents in 2018, compared to 73% last year. German companies reported similar declines, with insider error incidents at 75% this year, down from 80% last year.

The research surveyed 400 senior IT decision makers from global organizations with more than 1,000 employees and found that 38% of IT security incidents occur as a direct result of their employees’ actions, with 75% of all incidents originating from their extended enterprise, which includes employees, customers and suppliers. Former employees represent 13% of cybersecurity incidents for the participating organizations.

According to this year’s survey, despite the reality that internal threats are the greatest risk to most organizations, employees believe that the majority of incidents (62%) are accidental, which is only a slight decrease from 65% in 2017.

“Although there’s a slight decrease in numbers in the EMEA region, the results once again highlight the insider threat as being the chief source of cybersecurity incidents,” Dr. Guy Bunker, SVP of products at Clearswift, said in a press release. “Three-quarters of incidents are still coming from within the business and its extended enterprise, far greater than the threat from external hackers. Businesses need to shift the focus inwards."

“Organizations need to have a process for tracking the flow of information in the business and have a clear view on who is accessing it and when," Bunker continued. "Businesses need to also ensure that employees ‘buy into’ the idea that data security is now a critical issue for the business. Educating them on the value of data, on different forms of data, what is shareable and what's not, is crucial to a successful cybersecurity strategy."

Given that the percentage changes are so slight, Ben Herzberg, director of threat research at Imperva, said that the minimal decline reinforces the notion that companies should not assume that their internal network is safe from threats.

“I’m not sure if GDPR is the cause of the change in the statistics gathered, but with or without GDPR, it’s important for organizations to know exactly where they store their data, and be accountable for it.”

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