WBB's Thought Leadership

How to Protect Your Organization from Insider Threat

May 1

American industry and private sector businesses are the choice target of foreign intelligence agencies, criminals, and industry spies.  The cost of economic espionage / insider threat comes at a high price - $13 Billion, not to mention the lives that potentially could be lost depending on the secrets traded.….we must protect America’s Trade Secrets.

What Do They Want From Us?

According to the latest economic espionage report to Congress from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, although foreign collectors will remain interested in all aspects of U.S. economic activity and technology, they’re probably most interested in the following areas:

  • Information and communications technology, which form the backbone of nearly every other technology;
  • Business information that pertains to supplies of scarce natural resources or that provides global actors an edge in negotiations with U.S. businesses or the U.S. government;
  • Military technologies, particularly marine systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other aerospace/aeronautic technologies; and
  • Civilian and dual-use technologies in fast-growing sectors like clean energy, health care/pharmaceuticals, and agricultural technology.

How do we spot potential insider threats?

Here are some warning signs that could indicate that employees are spying and/or stealing secrets from their company:

  • They work odd hours without authorization.
  • Without need or authorization, they take proprietary or other information home in hard copy form and/or on thumb drives, computer disks, or e-mail.
  • They unnecessarily copy material, especially if it’s proprietary or classified.
  • They disregard company policies about installing personal software or hardware, accessing restricted websites, conducting unauthorized searches, or downloading confidential material.
  • They take short trips to foreign countries for unexplained reasons.
  • They engage in suspicious personal contacts with competitors, business partners, or other unauthorized individuals.
  • They buy things they can’t afford.
  • They are overwhelmed by life crises or career disappointments.
  • They are concerned about being investigated, leaving traps to detect searches of their home or office or looking for listening devices or cameras.

If you suspect someone in your office may be committing economic espionage, report it to your facility security officer and to your local FBI office, or submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov/.




What’s the main thing insiders want to get out of taking action against their own businesses?

  • Money, with retaliation for perceived slights coming in second

How do recently fired employees manage to carry out many insider breaches

  • They use privileges that should have been revoked when they were fired.

How long does it take to clean up after an insider attack on a network?

  • 42 days

Who compromised more business records, insiders or outsiders?

  • Outsiders – 800 million by purely outsiders, 28.8 million by purely insiders (statistics source Verizon, 2010)

Insiders account for what percentage of data breaches?

  • 48%....4% were simply made by mistake

What extreme measure do half of businesses take in order to prevent data loss via social network posts?

  • Ban use of Facebook and other sites



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