State of affairs
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During the current unstable economy, organizations face increased threats from insiders during tough economic years ahead. During hard time organizations not only have to worry about outsider threats but will be facing an increased threat from disgruntled employees who might see no future with the organization during unstable economy. During these circumstances, when new jobs are hard to come by, revenge or financial need might play a motivating factor for a disgruntled employee.

In July 2008, San Francisco city network administrator (Terry Childs who hijacked the city network) was arrested and charged with locking his own bosses and colleagues out of city network. Basically his bosses got caught sleeping on their jobs because they were not monitoring this guy who happens to have the key to their kingdom. San Francisco city network controls data for its police, courts, jails, payroll, and health services. After 8 days in jail cell Terry Childs finally relinquished the password to Mayor Gavin Newsom in his jail cell. Why San Francisco’s network admin went rogue

Here are some considerations to tackle insider threats

Manage and monitor access
Manage your users through single sign on source like Windows active directory or Sun single sign on directory, which not only enable control access to sensitive data but also let you disable access to all resources when employee leave the company from a single location. Single sign on solution also provide comprehensive audit trail which can provide forensic evidence during incident handling.

Limit data leakage
Intellectual property (design, pattern, formula) should be guarded with utmost vigilant. Access to IP should be limited to few authorized users and controls should be in place to limit the data leakage outside the organization. Protect your online assets, and disable removable media to prevent classified data being copied into USB drives, CDs, and mobile phones.

Principle of least privilege
Which requires that user must be able to access to classified information only when user has legitimate business need and management permission. Sensitive data should be distributed on need to know basis and must have system logs and auditing turned on, so you can review the access is limited to those who are authorized. Proactively review the logs for any suspicious activity. In case suspicious activity is detected, increase audit and monitoring frequency of the target to detect their day to day activity. Limit access to critical resources through remote access.

Conduct background check
Conduct background check on all new and suspicious employees. All employees who handle sensitive data must go through background check. HR should conduct background verification, reference check and criminal history for at least 5 years. What type of checks will be conducting on an individual will depend upon their access to classified information.

Risk assessment
Conduct a risk analysis of your data on regular basis to determine what data you have, its sensitivity and where it resides and who is the business owner. Risk analysis should determine appropriate data classification based on sensitivity and risks to data. Regular risk assessment might be necessary, due to passage of time data classification might change based on new threats and sensitivity of the data.

Digital Armageddon – The Insider Threat

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