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Posted Oct 31st, 2012

Insiders Pose Major Threat to Security of Intellectual Property

By Fahmida Y. Rashid,
Posted October 28, 2012

For many organizations, the biggest threat to their networks and data doesn’t come from nation-state attackers, hacktivists, or cyber-criminals. Insiders, such as disgruntled ex-employees and frustrated employees, pose significant dangers to the organization’s security.

The malware attack against Saudi oil giant Aramco in August which physically damaged 30,000 computers is a perfect example. It’s still not clear exactly who was behind the devastating attack, but experts believe insiders with privileged access to the network helped the attackers. It took the oil company two weeks to recover from the infection.

Outsiders were behind an overwhelming majority, 98 percent, of data breaches in 2011, according to Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report released earlier this year. Only four percent of the incidents involved insiders in some way, according to the report. When Verizon narrowed the focus to include only data breaches which resulted in intellectual property being stolen (as opposed to personal information being exposed, for example), the trends were very different, Wade Baker, Verizon’s director of security intelligence, told SecurityWatch.

When looking only at IP theft, it turned out almost half of the breaches involved insiders, which was a “dramatic change to the profile,” Baker said. “If a company worried about protecting IP is figuring out where to look at to protect the IP, then you need to know that insiders are a huge issue,” he said.

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