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5 Tips for Responding to Rising User-Based Risk

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69 percent of data breaches involved insidersThe world of IT security is always changing. Is your security strategy evolving as fast as the threats you face?

Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and flexible, making it harder to prevent attacks. Hackers and outside threats have gotten plenty of attention in the past. In 2015, the fastest growing threat faced by IT managers will be user-based risks. Rather than focusing on how to keep malicious criminals out of the network, it is time to start addressing insider threats.

Despite these increased risks, it’s becoming more common for employees to bring their own devices to work, giving security managers less control.

To help respond to these rising security threats posed by users, follow these 5 tips:

  1. Shift security focus from control-centric to people-centric

It is becoming more and more difficult for IT departments to maintain control over the systems and applications that employees use. Focus less on restricting information and more on the employee’s rights and responsibilities. When users are educated on data security it can become their responsibility to maintain this security. It then becomes the IT department’s job to monitor and verify. Even system administrators and root users who have the keys to the kingdom need to be monitored and audited.

  1. Focus on information security, not network security

While network and server security will still be extremely important for outside attacks, user-based risks will require a greater focus on the actual information being protected. With the increased use of cloud-based services, IT departments are losing control over the networks and applications employees are using. What can be monitored and protected is the actual information being used and shared inside and outside the company. To do this, create processes to track where information is created, manipulated, stored, and transferred.

  1. Increase Detection and Response Ability

The changes in IT have made it more difficult to completely protect yourself against attacks. Cybercriminals are constantly inventing new methods that security managers must adapt to. While it is becoming more difficult to prevent attacks, you can increase your ability to detect and respond to them. You don’t want to end up like JP Morgan Chase, which let a breach go undetected for 2 months. Set up systems to monitor your users and alert you when any suspicious activity is found. Then create a response plan for if and when a breach occurs.

  1. Make Sure Workplace Agreements Include Data Security

As you address more user-based security issues, make sure to include in workplace agreements what is expected of employees. If you are putting more responsibility on the user to maintain security, there should be a clear understanding on what responsible information handling practices are. It may seem obvious, but tell make sure your employees know what belongs to them and what belongs to the company. You should also make it clear the level of monitoring you will be doing of their work and the purpose for it so they are informed. Adding this information will ensure that everyone is well informed and may be useful if an employee is the cause of a breach.

  1. Make Sure Your Vendors Have Strong Security

User-based security threats don’t just come from employees. In fact, 76% of breaches are can be traced to remote vendor access channels. In order to protect yourself, you should carefully vet the vendors that you give access to your system. Your information is only as secure as the security of the users you give access to it. Before giving vendors access, ask them questions about their IT security to make sure your data will be safe in their hands. Think about what your contractors will be accessing and ensure them that you will be monitoring their activity.

Have any other tips for keep your information secure from user-based risk? Let us know in the comments below!


Are you looking to increase visibility into your user-based risks? CA ControlMinder is a start – ObserveIT completes the picture. Join us for a webinar tomorrow and learn how to identify and manage the different types of threats you are facing to cut your audit efforts in half.

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