By Charles Leaver

Security report finds biggest threats come internally

While there is certainly no shortage of cybercriminals and hackers vying for access to sensitive corporate data, a new report found that the biggest threat to data leak prevention comes from inside a company.

Research firm Forrester recently published the report, Understand the State of Data Security and Privacy, that stated that internal threats are the leading cause of data leakage. The report included businesses based in the U.S. as well as in Canada, France, Germany and the U.K.

Importance of endpoint security training
PCWorld supported the report’s findings, and stated that ignorance of data leak prevention and endpoint security is the likely cause of internal threats. According to the report, 36 percent of data breaches in the last year came as a consequence of employees misusing data. Furthermore, 42 percent of employees at small to midsize companies were trained in best endpoint security practices, and only 57 percent said they were aware of their employer’s security practices.

Businesses should not only implement an endpoint security strategy to avoid data leakage, but they should be sure that employees are aware of the plan and completely informed on the specifics involved. Employees should know what they can do as individuals to avoid internal threats to endpoint security. Forrester analyst Heidi Shey said employees can’t expect to know what they haven’t been told.

“You’ve got to give them some kind of guidance and guard rails to work with,” Shey said.

Is this normal?
The report also stated that 25 percent of data breaches came due to the activities of a malicious insider. However unfortunate, businesses should be cautious about employee actions on corporate networks. Shey advised businesses to focus not only on what is being sent out of the network, but also what is going on internally.

Additionally, administrators should learn to recognize employee habits which may be out of the ordinary. PCWorld stated that an employee who is granted access to different sections of the network could pose a risk to data protection, as even malicious activities could be seen as everyday corporate activity.

“Security teams need to look at this and ask, is this normal?” Shey said. “Is this a normal pattern? Is this what the typical employee does as part of their work, or is this behavior out of the ordinary? Spotting these kinds of patterns is one way to address that issue.”

Overall, businesses should be sure that proper protection is in place for every piece of sensitive information.

“If you don’t know what your data is or what you need to protect, you can’t do much to protect it properly,” Shey said.

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