Much of the attention in the cybersecurity market today is aimed at stopping bad actors from outside the organization, such as cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers who want to break into networks and systems to steal data or wreak some kind of havoc on organizations and their customers.

But the fact is, a lot of attacks today are being launched or triggered from inside the enterprise, by disgruntled employees or others who have access to systems and data such as intellectual property and personalized information that outsiders might not even know about.

The goal of these attempts might be data theft, sabotage or some other motive. Other internal security incidents might be the result of employees inadvertently launching a malware attack or carelessly clicking on a link that leads to a phishing attack.

Regardless of the source or the cause—these insider incidents can result in a huge amount of damage for organizations. And according to security experts, security events brought about by insiders are not insignificant.

As the CERT Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) notes, cyberattacks from employees and other insiders is a common problem that organizations should be planning for and preventing. “Insiders pose a substantial threat to your organization because they have the knowledge and access to proprietary systems that allow them to bypass security measures through legitimate means,” the organization says.

The nature of insider threats is different from other cybersecurity challenges, because these threats require a different strategy for preventing and addressing them, the center says.

Recent industry research cited by InfoSecurity Magazine has shown that internal users are responsible for as much as 43 percent of all data breaches, with half of these breaches being intentional. That should be a startling figure for security programs that are primarily focusing their defenses on adversaries from outside the organization.

Fortunately, there are steps companies can take to enhance data protection from inside threats. One key to defend against internal cyber security incidents is to detect anomalous behavior before it can result in damage to the organization.

Security executives and teams need to be proactive in monitoring data access. They need to have a complete understanding of data access patterns across the entire base of users in the organization. That’s especially true for privileged accounts that have an even greater level of data access.

Businesses can stay ahead of the threats by leveraging behavior-based analytics to better secure systems and data. Behavior-based analytics that can be configured for individual users or groups enables companies to automatically measure user activity levels.

Security teams can be quickly notified whenever abnormal levels of activity occur, so they can take immediate and appropriate action and avoid or minimize the impact of malicious activities.

With technology solutions available today, security and IT executives can help their organizations move beyond classic auditing tools by analyzing and understanding their organization’s data content, so they can focus on the data that is most valuable to the enterprise.

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