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Insider threats and the talent gap: What are organizations missing in their cybersecurity defense?
By Alex Waintraub, DFIR Expert Evangelist
October 24, 2023
Insider threats and the talent gap: What are organizations missing in their cybersecurity defense?

Large and small organizations alike are both highly susceptible to insider threats. And it’s even harder to prevent them with the lack of internal oversight brought on by a talent gap in the cybersecurity industry.

In this article, let’s take a look at some common types of insider threats that your organization is likely to fall victim to, and how the talent gap increases your vulnerability.

From there, we’ll share strategies for leveraging technology to help you reduce the likelihood of having your data stolen by an insider threat – and discuss how you can recover quickly if it happens to you.

What is an insider threat?

An insider threat is a cybersecurity risk that originates from inside the organization, arising from an individual with a level of authorized access or data visibility within your environment – and the cause can be either malicious or unintentional.

In a malicious insider threat, an individual is knowingly causing harm to a business. In some cases, employees or contractors are being paid by third-party groups to grant them access to confidential data within corporate environments, as the hacking group Lapsus$ famously did to gain access to data at Microsoft and other companies. In this case, Lapsus$ was able to gain contacts all over the world, as they were able to purchase access credentials from individuals who were frustrated with their companies, enabling the threat actor to log in and cause damage before the company realizes anything is amiss. Other malicious acts may be caused by employees who are whistleblowers and are deliberately stealing and exposing data to show corporate malfeasance, or those trying to enact revenge on the company to settle a grievance.

Other insider threats are unintentional in nature and take place as a result of social engineering by a threat actor. For example, the employee may click on a phishing link where they’ll enter their corporate account credentials, or they may give confidential information to someone who is posing as an internal authority, such as the company CEO. Phishing attacks are one of the most common types of cybercrime, with 92% of organizations falling victim to phishing attacks in 2022, a 29% increase from the year before.

In these situations, the employee had no malicious intent, but the end result is no less devastating.

Insider threats of all types can lead to devastating business losses, including business disruption, reputation damage, intellectual property theft, legal liabilities to stakeholders whose data was leaked, and remediation costs. The average total cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million.

The cybersecurity skills gap

Amplifying the insider threat problem, many organizations are also facing a significant cybersecurity skills gap. Only 44% of business leaders and 46% of cyber leaders say that their organizations have the people and skills they need today for adequate cybersecurity defense. In fact, 3.4 million cybersecurity experts are needed globally to support today’s digitized economy.

Recruiting is a challenge, and employers struggle to retain highly qualified cybersecurity staff: Gartner predicts that nearly half of all cybersecurity leaders are likely to change jobs due to job-related stresses by 2025. When turnover happens, important institutional knowledge is lost, and organizations are more susceptible to phishing attempts and other types of cyber attacks. Organizations are also likely to hire more underqualified employees, who will take time to build the necessary skills to establish and maintain a strong cybersecurity posture for the business.

Fortunately, bringing in the right technology solutions can help you reduce the negative consequences of shortfalls on your cybersecurity team.

How CYGNVS can help

Leveraging a best-in-class cybersecurity incident response platform like CYGNVS gives you the tools to overcome staffing shortages in helping you identify and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

CYGNVS offers a secure, out-of-band communications platform where your organization can:

  • Train and plan for cybersecurity investigations
    Make sure your entire team is on the same page when it comes to preparation for cybersecurity incidents. You’ll be able to bring in all relevant stakeholders to share knowledge and ask and answer questions, with all historical data preserved for future employees who are involved in cybersecurity response. This will ensure that even when turnover rates are higher than you might like, none of your valuable knowledge is lost when an SME moves on. You’ll be able to build templated workflows that break down required actions by role, with permissions assigned to ensure that each stakeholder gets access to the information they need without compromising data that should remain privileged. Your team can walk through various tabletop exercises and map out their response to different scenarios, ensuring that you are well-prepared in the event that an insider threat might occur.

  • Respond to cybersecurity incidents on an out-of-band platform
    If an insider threat results in a successful data breach, the worst thing you can do is plan out your response using your compromised channels, such as email and Microsoft Teams. Your attacker is likely to be a step ahead of you – particularly if it is a malicious attack originating within the organization.

    By relying on CYGNVS, you can ensure that only trusted, vetted stakeholders who are critical to your cybersecurity operations have access to your game plan. You can invite both internal SMEs and external stakeholders, such as forensics and legal consultants, empowering you to conduct all communication related to incident detection and remediation in a secure platform where all parties have access to only the information that is relevant to them.

    If you have determined that an employee acted with malicious intent, you’ll be able to consult with external counsel to determine a course of action so that you can gather all the evidence successfully to fire the employee and/or take legal action against them.

  • Document and analyze your response
    CYGNVS gives your organization the tools to prepare an incident response plan (IRP), and map your incident response against it – so you can see where you fell short or deviated from the plan, and why. That helps you track accountability among your employees and other stakeholders, so you’ll know whether they behaved appropriately under fire, and can follow up with further training and scenario planning if necessary. You’ll also be able to segment your data into different reports for a variety of stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and others, to demonstrate best practices in your response and provide the necessary documentation to limit your legal liability and maintain your professional reputation.

Insider threats are growing more prevalent – but by building a defense posture that includes a robust, out-of-band incident response platform for building, practicing, and executing your cybersecurity defense strategy, you’ll be well-prepared to restore operations as quickly as possible if your organization is affected.

Learn more about using CYGNVS to manage your response to insider threats. Visit us at CYGNVS.com or get a demo today.