Insider Threats In
Cybersecurity

An insider threat is any employee, executive, vendor, contractor, or other person who works directly with an organization who deliberately misuses data for the purpose of harming the organization or for financial gain.  These threats are difficult to detect because the insider knows he must be cautious and will cover up his actions for fear of being caught.  Detection is also difficult  because the person involved may have legitimate access to the data.

According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 34% of all data breaches involve internal actors? On average, employees have access to 17% of all sensitive data files in an organization. 

Who are the Insider Threat Actors?

An insider is anyone “inside” an organization who has, or previously had, authorized access to an organization’s resources. These resources may or may not include an organization’s facilities, personnel, equipment, systems, networks, and sensitive data and information. Insiders may include:

  • Persons who know an organization’s business goals and strategies. 
  • Persons to whom an organization has supplied authorized access to its systems and networks.
  • Employees, particularly department leaders, who are trusted individuals given access to data, logs, or other sensitive information.
  • Persons who have continuous, regular, or periodic access to an organization’s data and networks, including vendors, repairmen, technicians, and contractors.
  • Persons who develop the products and services and know the strengths and weaknesses of an organization’s offerings, including pricing, costs, and ideas.


Types Of Insider Threats in Cybersecurity

  • Malicious insider – a high-privileged user such as network administrator, partner, or person with permissions across sensitive data who use this information for personal or financial gain.
  • Disgruntled ex-employee – a person who left the company with data and destroys the data or accesses  company networks after their departure as revenge for termination of employment. 
  • Reckless third parties –  vendors, contractors, and repairmen who compromise the organization’s security and safety through carelessness, misuse, or malicious access.
  • Inside agent or mole –  a “spy” who works to divulge vital information to a rival organization. 
  • Careless employee – one who mishandles data, performs reckless security behavior, installs unauthorized applications, and does not adhere to cybersecurity protocols.
  • Compromised employee –  one who may accidentally click a malicious link or attachment by failing to recognize a phishing email. 

Preventing Insider Threats

  • Train employees.  62% of the insider threats are directly related to employee compromise and negligence. Most insider threats are unintentional and happen because employees lack cybersecurity awareness.  Anti-phishing training using phishing simulations will encourage employee awareness.
  • Build a cyber-secure work culture by focusing on cyber hygiene across your organization  Employees should be trained to recognize and report risky behavior,  negligence or carelessness to IT or HR departments.
  • Coordinate with cross-functional leaders, especially HR departments to identify and monitor possible disgruntled employees. 


No matter where the threat comes from, having a cyber aware workforce pays off. Let us show you how.