5 Steps for developing your company’s own insider threat program

5 Steps for developing your company’s own insider threat program

Many California businesses today are faced with an uncomfortable truth: they are vulnerable to data theft, loss, and sabotage from within their organization. And while internal threats tend to be outliers, generally speaking, it is well worth investing in systems that prevent damage caused by these malicious actors, as failing to do so can hurt most businesses beyond recovery.

Related article: Mitigating cybersecurity insider threats

An effective way of mitigating insider threats is by having an insider threat program. This can be done, or at least initiated, with minimal funding, as it focuses on fostering a collaborative culture of security. Furthermore, insider threat programs can assist with your company’s cybersecurity and compliance efforts.

Here are the steps you can take to create your company’s own insider threat program.

1. Form a working group

An insider threat program is an IT-led project, but it requires the cooperation and active participation of all the internal sectors of your organization. Because of this, it’s necessary to form a working group composed of individuals from all relevant departments, such as human resources, physical security, IT security, business continuity, and legal.

This working group will be tasked with developing your insider threat program as well as identifying data sources for managing and further optimizing the program. It pays to have several different perspectives to inform all aspects and concepts of your insider threat program, ensuring that all bases are covered.

2. Designate a program manager

This person will oversee and provide broad insight into the program, advocate for resources, and lead program members to achieve goals on schedule, so make sure you take your time looking for the right person. Sourcing internally will have its benefits in terms of cost and compatibility, so it is recommended that your first candidates come from within. Should no one prove to be fit for the role, then you may expand your search externally.

Ideally, an insider threat program manager should have significant experience in information assurance work as well as possess relevant industry certifications such as CISSP, CISA, or CRISC. Select a candidate who exhibits good leadership skills, as they will be an asset to your organization.

Related article: How to defend against insider threats

3. Develop governance and policy guidelines

These guidelines will serve to inform your insider threat identification, prevention, and response procedures. You will want to prioritize establishing measures for visibility and control over high-risk activities without affecting the productivity and data access of your employees. Also, make sure to provide structured investigation processes that focus on preventing high-risk actions and behavior across all levels of your organization.

Finally, it is important to develop an insider threat program that you can someday mature into an insider risk program without disrupting productivity and without the need for too many resources.

The participation of all members of your working group is key to the effectiveness of these guidelines. It is up to each of them to ensure that other organizational policies aren’t infringed upon by your insider threat processes.

4. Develop a formal training program

A formal training program will set the course for your current and future employees' attainment of your insider threat program’s goals. Education and simulations will help them gain the skills and competencies necessary to protect critical business data. Annual refreshers are also recommended, since most cyberthreats are continuously evolving. The training programs should also be tailored to the different needs of each role and seniority level.

5. Establish an insider threat department

You can fully launch your insider threat program by establishing an insider threat department. The main role of this department is to provide legal and ethical oversight of your business data and its handlers. The department will also be in charge of collecting and analyzing data from all members of the organization to assess whether your business is experiencing or is in danger of insider threats. Lastly, this office is expected to provide assistance to investigative authorities, if necessary.

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