The Difference Between Insider Risks and Insider Threats

You may be wondering why we are discussing the difference between insider risks and threats. Here’s the thing: they are two very different concepts, and it’s important to understand the distinction.

So what is an insider risk?

Simply put, it is a potential for harm that comes from within an organization. It could be anything from someone accidentally spilling coffee on a computer to a disgruntled employee sabotaging company property. Insider risks are typically unintentional and can be mitigated through proper training and security measures.

What is an insider threat, on the other hand?

An insider threat is a malicious actor within an organization who deliberately tries to cause harm. This could be anything from stealing company secrets to causing a data breach. Insider threats are much more difficult to prevent because they involve malicious intent.

Why is it important to identify potential insider risks and threats? 

Because they can have a significant impact on an organization. Insider risks can lead to financial losses, decreased productivity, and reputational damage. Insider threats can be even more damaging, often resulting in serious data breaches or other security incidents.

What are some common signs that an insider may be a risk or threat?

There are a few warning signs that an insider may be a potential risk or threat. These include changes in behavior, work patterns, and communications.

If an employee suddenly starts behaving differently, it could be a sign that something is wrong. This could include anything from being more withdrawn to being more aggressive.

Changes in work patterns can also be a sign that something is wrong. If an employee starts coming in late, taking longer breaks, or calling in sick more often, it could be a sign that they are planning something malicious.

Finally, changes in communications can also be a sign that something is wrong. If an employee starts sending unusual emails or making strange phone calls, it could be a sign that they are leaking information or planning something malicious.

How can you prevent insider risks and threats?

There are some key things you can do to help prevent insider risks and threats: 

  • Invest in security: This includes both physical and cyber security. By investing in security, you can help protect your organization from both insider and outsider threats. If you need help getting started, an managed IT services provider can assist you in identifying and implementing the best security measures for your organization.
  • Restrict access to sensitive data: This will help prevent accidental or unauthorized access to sensitive information. For example, you can give employees access to only the data that they need to do their job.
  • Implement security measures: This could include anything from installing security cameras to requiring strong passwords. By making it more difficult for someone to cause harm, you can help prevent both accidental and deliberate insider threats.
  • Monitor employee activity: This can help you identify red flags that may indicate an insider threat. For example, if an employee is accessing sensitive data outside of work hours or trying to access data that they shouldn’t have access to, this could be a sign of malicious intent.
  • Provide training: Proper training can help employees understand how to handle sensitive information and what to do if they witness suspicious activity.
  • Encourage reporting: Employees should feel comfortable reporting any potential insider risks or threats. This includes anything from a co-worker acting strange to actual security incidents.

The bottom line is that insider risks and threats are two very different things. Insider risks are typically accidental and can be prevented with proper training and security measures. Insider threats are deliberate and often much more difficult to prevent. However, there are steps you can take to help protect your organization from both.