Insider risk presents a significant and often underestimated threat to organisations of all sizes. These risks stem from employees, contractors, or other insiders who have authorised access to sensitive information, systems, or assets. Misuse or unauthorised disclosure of this information can lead to serious repercussions, both legally and financially. The implementation of a proactive insider risk detection program is vital in today's digitally connected world.

What if you don’t implement a proactive insider risk detection program?

Organisations that neglect to implement a proactive insider risk detection program can face numerous risks that might jeopardise both their security and operational integrity. Here is a detailed analysis of these risks:

  1. Data Leakage: Without a proactive detection program, companies may find it difficult to identify unauthorised access or sharing of confidential information. Employees with malicious intent might leak sensitive data to competitors or other third parties, causing significant damage to business interests.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Failing to monitor internal threats can lead to non-compliance with legal and regulatory standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, or Australia's Privacy Act. This could result in severe financial penalties, legal action, and reputational damage.
  3. Intellectual Property Theft: Intellectual property (IP) represents a significant asset for many businesses. If an insider steals or misuses IP, it can severely hamper a company's competitive edge.
  4. Operational Disruption: Employees with access to critical systems might sabotage operations either due to dissatisfaction or for personal gain. This could lead to disruptions in business processes, customer dissatisfaction, and a loss in revenue.
  5. Loss of Reputation: Customers, partners, and stakeholders often trust organisations with their data and information. Any insider-related incident can diminish this trust and severely harm an organisation's reputation.
  6. Increased Costs: Without proactive measures, detecting an insider threat may take much longer, or it might go unnoticed altogether. Responding to incidents after they occur is often more costly and time-consuming.
  7. Decreased Employee Morale: Implementing proactive measures is not only about catching malicious activities but also about educating and creating a culture of responsibility. Without this, employees might become sceptical or apprehensive about security measures, leading to a decrease in morale and productivity.
  8. Legal Liability: In extreme cases, failure to prevent or respond to an insider threat could result in legal liability, particularly if the organisation's negligence leads to harm to clients or third parties.
  9. Potential for Collusion: If employees realise that there is no robust system in place to detect unsanctioned activities, it might encourage collusion between staff members to conduct fraudulent activities, further amplifying the risks.

Ignoring the necessity for an insider risk proactive detection program might lead to various interconnected risks. These range from immediate financial loss to long-term damage to a company's reputation and standing in the market. Implementing a sound insider threat detection strategy, like the one your company provides, is essential to mitigate these risks and foster a secure, transparent, and responsible organisational culture.

Should you use specialised Insider Risk software?

The implementation of a dedicated insider risk software, particularly when it is offered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, is an essential component of a robust insider risk proactive detection program. Here's why:

Importance of Dedicated Insider Risk Software:

  1. Specialised Capabilities: Insider risk software focuses on identifying and analysing patterns related to data leakage, unsanctioned activities, and other security threats originating within the organisation. The specialised algorithms and analytics can efficiently detect hidden risks that conventional security measures might overlook.
  2. Integration with Existing Systems: Such software can seamlessly integrate with existing IT infrastructure, facilitating continuous monitoring and near real-time alerting without major disruptions to daily operations.
  3. Legal and Compliance Alignment: Given the sensitive nature of internal surveillance, dedicated insider risk software usually ensures alignment with local laws, regulations, and ethical considerations, reducing legal and compliance risks.
  4. Customisation and Scalability: Many organisations have unique needs and risk profiles. Dedicated software can be tailored to fit those specific requirements, providing more accurate detection and greater flexibility in addressing evolving threats.

Why a SaaS Platform is Critical:

  1. Cost-Effective: SaaS platforms typically operate on a subscription basis, which can be more financially accessible than on-premises solutions. There is often no need for substantial upfront investment in hardware or licensing.
  2. Scalability: As your business grows or your needs change, SaaS platforms can easily scale to meet those demands. This flexibility ensures that the system can continue to serve its purpose without necessitating a complete overhaul.
  3. Accessibility and Collaboration: Being cloud-based, SaaS platforms enable accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. This facilitates collaboration among different teams or locations and ensures that critical alerts and reports are available when needed.
  4. Maintenance and Updates: SaaS providers take care of the maintenance, security patches, and updates, ensuring that the platform always runs on the latest and most secure version. This relieves your IT staff of the burden of constant maintenance and allows them to focus on other critical areas.
  5. Integration with Other SaaS Tools: SaaS platforms often allow seamless integration with other cloud-based tools and systems, making it easier to implement a comprehensive and coordinated approach to insider threat management.

The adoption of a dedicated insider risk software, especially in a SaaS model, allows an organisation to implement a more effective and agile insider risk proactive detection program. It ensures that the unique challenges associated with insider threats are addressed in a legally compliant, scalable, and cost-effective manner. It aligns with modern business practices and provides a foundation for continuous improvement and adaptation to evolving risks and regulations. Utilising such a platform can be seen as a strategic investment in safeguarding an organisation's sensitive information and maintaining its reputation and integrity.

Is using non-dedicated software with a “bolted-on” added “feature” a problem?

Implementing a proactive insider threat detection program is a complex task that requires specialised solutions. Utilising non-dedicated software with a bolted-on feature to handle this challenge may lead to several problems:

  1. Inadequate Integration: Non-dedicated software that's adapted to perform insider threat detection may lack seamless integration with other security and monitoring tools. This could lead to gaps in monitoring, hindering the comprehensive assessment of user behaviour and threat landscapes.
  2. Lack of Specific Functionality: Dedicated solutions for insider threat detection are often built with specific features that cater to the unique requirements of this field, such as behavioural analytics, user activity monitoring, or data loss prevention. A bolted-on feature may not have the sophistication or the specialised algorithms necessary to carry out these functions efficiently.
  3. Potential Compliance Issues: Proactive employee monitoring and insider threat detection must adhere to various legal and regulatory standards. Non-dedicated solutions may not meet the stringent requirements, thereby risking non-compliance and potential legal repercussions.
  4. Limited Scalability: A solution that's not built specifically for insider threat detection may not scale effectively with your business. This could create bottlenecks as the company grows, rendering the system inefficient and possibly requiring an overhaul.
  5. Performance Concerns: A bolted-on feature may not be optimised to work in conjunction with the main software. This can lead to performance issues, with increased latencies and decreased overall effectiveness.
  6. Higher Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Though it might seem cost-effective initially, a non-specialised solution may end up being more expensive in the long run. The need for customisations, ongoing maintenance, and potential replacements with dedicated solutions could increase the TCO.
  7. Increased Security Risks: Non-dedicated solutions may not have been designed with the same rigorous security standards as a specialised insider threat detection platform. This can expose the system to vulnerabilities, potentially leading to security breaches.
  8. Limited Vendor Support: Vendors specialising in insider threat detection typically offer expert support and continuous updates to handle the evolving threat landscape. A generalist vendor may not have the expertise or resources to provide the same level of service.

Relying on a non-dedicated solution with a bolted-on feature is a short-sighted approach that may not adequately address the complex and multifaceted nature of insider threat detection. For your company, which is involved in data governance, workplace investigations, and digital forensics, it seems prudent to invest in a specialised platform that aligns with your specific needs and compliance requirements. Such an investment would likely provide more robust protection and be more cost-effective in the long term.

The implementation of a proactive insider threat detection program is paramount for businesses today, particularly those handling sensitive data. A proper structure for handling alerts can make or break the effectiveness of the program. Below is an in-depth discussion on this topic.

How critical is the alert review process to success of a proactive insider risk detection program?

  1. Immediate Response: By directing alerts straight to the immediate managers of staff who violate policy, the reaction time to potential threats is drastically reduced. Managers are directly accountable for their team members and are often more familiar with the context and nuances of the situation, allowing for quicker and more appropriate action.
  2. Avoiding Bottlenecks with Specialised Teams: When alerts are reviewed solely by the internal information security or insider risk team, it can create significant delays. These teams may be overwhelmed with the volume of alerts, or they may not have the specific knowledge to properly evaluate the situation. In contrast, managers can more accurately evaluate the situation in real-time.

Problems with Internal Team Review

  1. Inefficiency: Internal teams may slow down the review process due to the sheer volume of alerts. Time-sensitive threats may go unaddressed.
  2. Detuning of Alerts: A common issue is that the internal team often detunes the alerts to a fraction of what should be reviewed. This dilutes the effectiveness of the detection system, as potentially critical threats are ignored or given inadequate attention.
  3. Ignoring Alerts: Unfortunately, internal teams may also simply ignore alerts, particularly if they are swamped with other responsibilities. This complacency transforms an otherwise robust security measure into mere shelfware.

Adequacy of the Alert Review Process

  1. Effectiveness vs. Shelfware: A well-structured alert review process ensures the insider risk program's success, while inadequate processes risk turning the program into an ineffective shelfware. It's vital to monitor and continually improve the alert process to ensure it remains effective.
  2. Scalability and Adaptability: A well-structured alert review process can scale well to any business size and adapt quickly to business operations. By engaging managers directly in the process, it allows for more agile and context-aware decisions that fit the unique requirements and risks of the business.

The success of an insider threat detection program hinges on a well-structured alert review process. Direct engagement with managers fosters immediate and contextual responses, circumventing the delays and inefficiencies associated with a single specialised team's review. A well-implemented system transforms the insider risk program from a theoretical concept into a robust, scalable, and adaptive tool, essential for protecting the integrity of business data and operations. The absence of such a system, however, can render a program ineffective, diminishing its value to the point of irrelevance. Therefore, a well-designed alert review process is not just a good practice but a business imperative in the contemporary digital landscape.

Should you engage Insider Risk specialists?

Engaging experts in insider risk is a critical component when contemplating and managing an insider risk proactive detection program. Here's a detailed explanation that considers the industry context, your specific focus on digital forensics, workplace investigations, and the development of your insider threat SaaS platform:

  1. Understanding the Threat Landscape: Insider threats are not uniform. They can be complex, multifaceted, and often require an intimate understanding of both human psychology and technical vulnerabilities. Experts in insider risk bring valuable insights into identifying potential threats tailored to the specific organisation, considering its culture, industry, and unique technological environment.
  2. Compliance and Legal Considerations: Implementing an insider risk detection program can involve a delicate balance between employee privacy rights and organisational security needs. Experts well-versed in legal and regulatory landscapes can help navigate these complexities, ensuring that the program adheres to legal mandates and ethical guidelines.
  3. Technical Expertise: An insider risk program may require sophisticated technological solutions, including advanced monitoring and data analytics tools. Engaging experts ensures that the technologies used are suitable for the organisation's specific needs, robust, and secure. Your company's insider threat SaaS platform would benefit immensely from this technical guidance.
  4. Developing the Right Culture: Successfully managing insider risks requires more than mere technological solutions; it demands fostering a culture of trust and ethical behaviour. Experts can help create a framework that promotes transparency, regular training, and positive reinforcement. This can empower employees to be part of the solution rather than potential threats.
  5. Near Real-Time Analysis and Response: Insider risks may evolve rapidly. Experts in the field can help set up real-time monitoring, analysis, and response mechanisms, making the program more effective in identifying and mitigating risks promptly.
  6. Integration with Existing Protocols: An insider risk program must be integrated seamlessly with existing security protocols and business operations. Experts can guide this integration, ensuring that the system works within the broader security architecture without disrupting normal business processes.
  7. Cost-Effectiveness: Lastly, insider risk experts can guide the organisation in the most cost-effective strategies and solutions. They can help prioritise efforts and resources on the highest risks, ensuring that investments are focused on areas that provide the greatest security benefits.

In your specific context, considering the business you run, leveraging expertise in insider risk is not just a best practice but a necessity. The specialised nature of data governance, legal discovery, and digital forensics requires a keen understanding of both the technical and human elements of insider risk. Developing an insider threat platform like yours would require collaboration with experts across these fields to ensure it is tailored to the specific needs of clients, legally compliant, and technologically sound. In my opinion, engaging experts in insider risk is a non-negotiable aspect of a robust insider risk management strategy. Their insights, guidance, and specialised skills provide a foundation for a program that is more than just reactive; it's intelligently proactive, aligned with the organisation's unique needs, and ethically sound. The potential consequences of neglecting expert involvement can range from legal challenges to catastrophic breaches, making their role all the more critical.

Christopher McNaughton

Strategic Advisor, ShadowSight

Who is Christopher McNaughton

Chris is a proficient problem solver with a strategic aptitude for anticipating and addressing potential business issues, particularly in areas such as Insider Threat, Data Governance, Digital Forensics, Workplace Investigations, and Cyber Security. He thrives on turning intricate challenges into opportunities for increased efficiency, offering pragmatic solutions derived from a practical and realistic approach.

Starting his career as a law enforcement Detective, Chris transitioned to multinational organisations where he specialised and excelled in Cyber Security, proving his authority in the field. Even under demanding circumstances, his commitment to delivering exceptional results remains unwavering, underpinned by his extraordinary ability to understand both cyber and business problems swiftly, along with a deep emphasis on active listening.

What is ShadowSight

ShadowSight is an innovative insider risk staff monitoring tool that proactively guards your business against internal threats and safeguards vital data from unauthorised access and malicious activities. We offer a seamless integration with your current systems, boosting regulatory compliance while providing unparalleled visibility into non-compliant activities to reinforce a secure digital environment. By prioritising actionable intelligence, ShadowSight not only mitigates insider threats but also fosters a culture of proactive risk management, significantly simplifying your compliance process without the overwhelming burden of false positives.