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Friday, 18 July 2014 10:42

Insiders are the biggest security risk

Written by Nick Farrell



Security professionals fear the user more than outside hackers

A new survey has revealed that more than 20 per cent of organisations believe malicious insiders pose the biggest threat to their security.

A further 44 per cent suggest employee’s ignorance could also cause defences to crumble More than 70 per cent said that people were the most frequent point of failure in an organisation’s IT security, with 20 per cent citing processes and just nine per cent complaining about technology.

The study, sponsored by Web security solutions outfit AppRiver is a repeat of a survey first conducted amongst 110 IT security professionals attending RSA in San Francisco earlier this year. That study found that, while the UK suspect internal breaches, more than 61 per cent of US professionals cite the biggest threat to their organisation’s security as cybercrime from external sources (compared to 35 per cent in the UK) with only 33 per cent suggesting the non-malicious insider as causing the most concern.

Remarkably, just over five percent of US respondents blamed malicious insiders for breaches.

Troy Gill, senior security analyst of AppRiver said that while the US blames external influences, the UK recognises it is their own people who can act as the weakest link in an organisation's IT security posture.

“While it’s hard to plan for ignorance, the combination of education and automation would certainly help mitigate most non-malicious threats especially as many IT professionals have faith in the technology they’re deploying,” he said.

When asked to name the most dangerous threat to the security of their organisation, both UK and US professionals agree that malware, including email-borne and web-based threats, topped the list of most concerning threat vectors. The next problem is personally identifiable information and social engineering.

Gill said that there had been a dramatic increase in phishing attacks since the beginning of this year, with many proving successful, which is a classic example of how an unsuspecting user can unwittingly put the organisation at risk.

“Educating users to these types of attack vector is just one element of effective remediation. Better still is to remove suspect electronic packages automatically from mailboxes, rather than allowing someone to open the message and detonate the contained device,” he said.

Nick Farrell

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