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Insider threats: Better to be safe than sorry

In the past few years, IT security has grown from a secondary thought to a priority for businesses. The fear factor can be overwhelming, and recent high-profile hacks within the media aren’t reassuring, as they point out these are often not sinister attacks from secret cyber-gangs but instead much more personal.

Often, to find the route of a data leak or a hack, businesses need to look a little closer to home. Our recent survey found that 53 per cent of government IT professionals identified careless and untrained insiders as the biggest threat to security. Although these threats are growing in awareness, insider threats need to be addressed before they create a mess too big to clean up. Steps need to be taken to reduce the risk and fear faced by organisations.

Be aware of who is accessing your network

The BYOD boom has added a great deal of risk to organisations as employees often use multiple devices at work. If these employees lose their laptop or have a device stolen from their bag, it could lead to vulnerable data being leaked or compromised, having potentially catastrophic effects for the entire organisation. By tracking and monitoring devices which access the network, IT pros can keep an eye on who is allowed access and block those who aren’t. Developing a ‘whitelist’ of all devices that are allowed access to the network can ensure maximum security, with those not included flagged immediately to the IT pro.

Monitor the network 24/7

It is impossible for the IT pro to be on top of everything which is happening on the network, so investing in a solution such as security information and event management (SIEM) and log and event management software can help lighten the load. Automated monitoring of the network can find anomalies and alert administrators of any potential breaches, data leaks, unauthorised users, or suspicious activities, helping to free up the IT pro’s time to focus on solving the problems flagged. These tools can also pinpoint where the root of the problem is and identify the user who could be unintentionally compromising the network.

Automate network configurations

Automating the network configuration process is a smart step for IT teams who are often stretched. An automated tool can improve efficiency as it performs scheduled network configuration backups, bulk change deployment for hundreds or thousands of devices – all with minimal input from the IT pro. As well as helping reduce the concern over insider threats, these tools alert the administrator when there are configuration errors or compliance issues, making their lives much easier.

Rather than being in the ‘it will never happen to me’ mindset, when it comes to insider threats, it is better to be safe than sorry. These simple steps and tools can let the IT pro focus on the real threats and problems to the organisation, ultimately ensuring they won’t be the next news headline.

Mav Turner, Head Geek, SolarWinds