An internal security breach is the most difficult type of data loss to guard against. Digital protocols can be set in place to prevent external intrusions into a company server, but there are few ways to prevent employees from sharing confidential information. The best way businesses can reduce the risk of an internal security breach is to learn more about the threat.
Who Poses an Internal Threat?
Most intellectual property is lost through employees in a technical position: scientists, engineers, salespeople and computer programmers. People in these positions have access to private company information, and they understand what information is valuable.
What Information is Leaked?
Although news reports cover leaks of top-secret government documents the most, the majority of stolen intellectual property is neither government intelligence nor military files. Private-sector trade secrets, however, comprise most of the internal security breaches. Industrial and corporate espionage is a serious threat to internal security.
Where does Information Go?
Most of the information lost through an internal security breach goes to a competitor. These trade secrets are used by existing competitors and new start-ups to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
When do Employees Steal Information?
Employees take confidential company information for personal benefit. In a few cases, employees might act as an informant for a competitor. Most cases, though, involve employees that have already decided to leave the company they are taking information from. Two-thirds of the time, internal breaches is caused by an employee that is leaving and hopes to benefit from the data they can access. Examples include researchers who want to build on the work they have already completed and salespeople who try to keep their clients.
Why is Information Stolen?
Those who steal company data hope to gain from their actions. The examples immediately show how someone might benefit from these actions.
How Do Employees Steal Information?
Firewalls and passwords cannot effectively guard against an internal security breach, because employees rarely hack into data. 75 percent of the time, information is stolen by people who were granted access to that information.
The technical methods used to take information are very simple. As the first answer mentioned, the usual perpetrators are not necessarily tech-savvy employees; they work in research and development or with customers, not necessarily in IT. Data is stolen through email attachments, remote access and basic file transfers. Coworkers and managers, outside of the IT department, typically discover an internal security breach, because IT knowledge is usually not needed to discover the breach.
Although online protection is necessary, guarding against an internal security breach requires more than an IT solution. Businesses must understand who poses a threat, as well as the what, where, when, why and how of an internal security breach.