Considering the speed of damage that insider threat can create, it is vital that the incident response be decisive, pre-determined, and unified to be effective
Insider threat is primarily focused on malicious threats to the company either by, or to, information technology assets

For the past several years, information technology security concerns and priority regarding insider threats have steadily risen as evidenced by a variety of surveys across the IT security industry. Companies are becoming increasingly worried about insider threats.

From the cyber security perspective, insider threat is primarily focused on malicious threats to the company either by, or to, information technology assets. Whether it is fraud, intellectual property theft, or even cyber system sabotage, the cyber security professional considers it an insider threat if the incident involves IT assets and internal resources.

Development Of Cyber Security Tools

Cyber security tools to predictably identify trends and identify malicious activity in real time, are increasingly under development and becoming a mainstay for the cyber security toolkit. Whether the culprit is malicious, exploited, or just plain negligent, both cyber and corporate security have a responsibility to detect and prevent the threat. As a result, you are seeing the development of enterprise risk programs combining physical and cyber security teams to implement a cohesive insider threat program. A natural outcome of this is the emerging interfacing of physical and cyber systems at various levels to provide both predicative and real-time intelligence of insider threat activity.

Security Information And Event Management System (SIEM)

One of the most obvious system interfaces is the extraction of access control data and its incorporation into a Security Information and Event Management System (SIEM, pronounced “sim”) such as Splunk, AlienVault, and ArcSight to name a few. SIEM’s are used by the Cybersecurity teams to provide a total picture of the cybersecurity landscape. Specifically, most SIEM’s use data collection “agents” across a variety of InfoSec sub-systems such as anti-virus, firewalls, intrusion detection systems as well as applications, which is then correlated and anomalies flagged for action. Both normal activities and deviations can then be driven to an operator console.

One of the most obvious system
interfaces is the extraction of access
control data and its incorporation into
a Security Information and Event
Management System (SIEM)

To the enterprise the advantage is obvious; it now has the ability to have a wide view of the current normal and aberrant network, application and data behavior to begin the predictive analysis of insider threats. However, an IT systems-only view is in fact limited as critical pieces of information are missing from the analysis and extraordinary efforts need to be made to obtain information. Currently, this situation extends to most physical security systems.

SIEM Scenario

Let’s pretend that a SIEM operator begins to receive alerts that a computer located in Toronto, Ontario begins to attempt access to a number of directories that it does not have privileges to. The attempts continue for a couple of minutes and that activity triggers an alert to the SIEM. The SIEM operator can quickly determine from the access control log that the ID of the person is Bob Smith.  However, that does not really mean that Bob Smith is attempting the breach. The SIEM operator may need to call the Global Security Operations Center and request an access report for the room the attack is being mounted from. If Bob Smith’s card was used to get into the room, and his ID was used to logon to the computer, then chances are its Bob Smith. The last piece of confirming evidence would be a video snippet from the camera monitoring the door to match the access granted with the photo on file and then to the video snippet. Cyber Security can then shutdown the computer and Corporate Security can physically stop the threat.

Best practices, tool development, and unified governance all play a part, and data mining for insider threat will certainly become standard
Rising concerns around insider threats make the integration of real-time security information even more compelling

Need For Process Automation

The above scenario assumes that the GSOC can make the request an immediate action priority. But what if it can’t because of another higher priority event occupying the GSOC? The answer is to automate the process with an interface between the two systems.

“Data mining on an archive is relatively simple” said Mike Hamilton, CEO of Critical Informatics at the ISC West Conference in 2016. “Arguably the more beneficial function is the real-time correlation of physical security data with a SIEM.”

The notion that an InfoSec SOC can hook into a live PhySec database, be it access control, intrusion detection, or video isn’t new. Indeed, the idea of it has been bandied about for a decade. However, with the recent advances in SIEM’s, InfoSec SOC’s, and the movement within the enterprise of a unified enterprise security governance, combined with rising concerns around insider threats, makes the integration of real-time security information even more compelling.

Imagine the same scenario mentioned previously, but now when the SIEM operator receives the alert they also get real-time access control and video snippets attached to the incident. Imagine further that the SIEM operator can use automated incident response processes to initiate an immediate joint corporate / information security, HR, Legal and employee manager response? Because of the speed of damage that insider threat can create it is vital that the incident response be decisive, pre-determined, and unified to be effective.

Because of the speed of
damage that insider threat
can create it is vital that
the incident response be
decisive, pre-determined,
and unified

Data-mining for Insider Threat isn’t limited to real-time incidents of course. There is value for the enterprise when Insider Threat pattern analysis is done that includes a physical security database extraction. Indeed, deep pattern analysis would be executed against an archive since real-time databases could have performance issues against an intensive query.

So, what are the issues that face an enterprise when it is considering insider threats? There are several:

1.Enterprise Governance

All the data access governance issues that apply to enterprise data (e.g. privacy concerns, legal requirements for preservation, cross-functional incident management) apply. An enterprise would be ill-advised to undertake a SIEM/Physical Security Insider Threat integration without the governance framework well thought out and planned.

2.Technical Issues

Integrations require the manufacturers Application Program Interface (API) to be available, and the application versions to be current. Each type of database integration would need a script written through the API’s and each would need to be maintained, including application version upgrades. So, a management plan would need to be in place for the script maintenance. Hardware and application standards would also need to be in place.

3.Enterprise Growth

As the enterprise grows the SIEM would need to extend into the new network locations. Extensions may be relatively simple, for example the company has purchased new office locations and is extending the network. However, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) add a complexity to the program. The M&A may acquire assets that do not conform to a corporate standard. Writing new hooks to standalone databases would be a nightmare.

For an enterprise considering using a SIEM or other dedicated application for Insider Threat the issues are complex, but not insurmountable. Further, the threat represented by an insider threat activity in today’s business environment requires tools that provide the timeliest information to initiate an appropriate response. Best practices, tool development, and unified governance all play a part, and data mining for insider threat will certainly become standard.

Save

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Which Security Technologies Are Becoming Outdated Or Obsolete?
Which Security Technologies Are Becoming Outdated Or Obsolete?

When technology performs a required task effectively, there is little reason to upgrade to the ‘next big thing’. In this regard, the physical security market is notoriously slow to change. Much of yesterday’s most robust and dependable equipment is still in place at thousands of customer sites, still performing as well as the day it was installed. However, there comes a point when any technology becomes outdated. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Which security technologies are becoming outdated or obsolete?

Physical Security And The Cloud: Why One Can’t Work Without The Other
Physical Security And The Cloud: Why One Can’t Work Without The Other

Human beings have a long-standing relationship with privacy and security. For centuries, we’ve locked our doors, held close our most precious possessions, and been wary of the threats posed by thieves. As time has gone on, our relationship with security has become more complicated as we’ve now got much more to be protective of. As technological advancements in security have got smarter and stronger, so have those looking to compromise it. Cybersecurity Cybersecurity, however, is still incredibly new to humans when we look at the long relationship that we have with security in general. As much as we understand the basics, such as keeping our passwords secure and storing data in safe places, our understanding of cybersecurity as a whole is complicated and so is our understanding of the threats that it protects against. However, the relationship between physical security and cybersecurity is often interlinked. Business leaders may find themselves weighing up the different risks to the physical security of their business. As a result, they implement CCTV into the office space, and alarms are placed on doors to help repel intruders. Importance of cybersecurity But what happens when the data that is collected from such security devices is also at risk of being stolen, and you don’t have to break through the front door of an office to get it? The answer is that your physical security can lose its power to keep your business safe if your cybersecurity is weak. As a result, cybersecurity is incredibly important to empower your physical security. We’ve seen the risks posed by cybersecurity hacks in recent news. Video security company Verkada recently suffered a security breach as malicious attackers obtained access to the contents of many of its live camera feeds, and a recent report by the UK government says two in five UK firms experienced cyberattacks in 2020. Cloud computing – The solution Cloud stores information in data centres located anywhere in the world, and is maintained by a third party Cloud computing offers a solution. The cloud stores your information in data centres located anywhere in the world and is maintained by a third party, such as Claranet. As the data sits on hosted servers, it’s easily accessible while not being at risk of being stolen through your physical device. Here’s why cloud computing can help to ensure that your physical security and the data it holds aren’t compromised. Cloud anxiety It’s completely normal to speculate whether your data is safe when it’s stored within a cloud infrastructure. As we are effectively outsourcing our security by storing our important files on servers we have no control over - and, in some cases, limited understanding of - it’s natural to worry about how vulnerable this is to cyber-attacks. The reality is, the data that you save on the cloud is likely to be a lot safer than that which you store on your device. Cyber hackers can try and trick you into clicking on links that deploy malware or pose as a help desk trying to fix your machine. As a result, they can access your device and if this is where you’re storing important security data, then it is vulnerable. Cloud service providers Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software in the personal computer Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software that is likely in place on your personal computer. Hyperscalers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Service (AWS) are able to hire countless more security experts than any individual company - save the corporate behemoth - could afford. These major platform owners have culpability for thousands of customers on their cloud and are constantly working to enhance the security of their platforms. The security provided by cloud service providers such as Claranet is an extension of these capabilities. Cloud resistance Cloud servers are located in remote locations that workers don’t have access to. They are also encrypted, which is the process of converting information or data into code to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, cloud infrastructure providers like ourselves look to regularly update your security to protect against viruses and malware, leaving you free to get on with your work without any niggling worries about your data being at risk from hackers. Data centres Cloud providers provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and AI Additionally, cloud providers are also able to provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and artificial intelligence, as well as data redundancy, where the same piece of data is held within several separate data centres. This is effectively super-strong backup and recovery, meaning that if a server goes down, you can access your files from a backup server. Empowering physical security with cybersecurity By storing the data gathered by your physical security in the cloud, you're not just significantly reducing the risk of cyber-attacks, but also protecting it from physical threats such as damage in the event of a fire or flood. Rather than viewing your physical and cybersecurity as two different entities, treat them as part of one system: if one is compromised, the other is also at risk. They should work in tandem to keep your whole organization secure.

Hybrid Working And The Threat Of Desk Data
Hybrid Working And The Threat Of Desk Data

The transition to remote working has been a revelation for many traditional office staff, yet concerns over data security risks are rising. Mark Harper of HSM explains why businesses and their remote workers must remain vigilant when it comes to physical document security in homes. Pre-pandemic, home offices were often that neglected room in people’s homes. But now things are different. After the initial lockdown in 2020, 46.6% of UK workers did some work at home with 86% of those doing so because of the pandemic. Semi-Permanent workspaces Since then, many have found that over time, those semi-permanent workspaces have become slightly more permanent – with official hybrid working coming into effect for an assortment of businesses and their teams. The adoption of hybrid working can in fact be seen as one of the few positives to come from the pandemic, with less travel, more freedom and higher productivity top of the benefits list for businesses and their employees. The handling of sensitive documents, is a growing concern for office managers But those welcomed benefits don’t tell the whole story. The transition to remote working has undoubtedly impacted workplace security, with various touch points at risk. The handling of sensitive documents for example, is a growing concern for office managers. In simpler times, sensitive data was more or less contained in an office space, but with millions of home setups to now think about, how can businesses and their office managers control the issue of desk data? Physical document security As of January 2021, it’s said that one in three UK workers are based exclusively at home. That’s millions of individuals from a variety of sectors, all of which must continue in their efforts to remain data secure. With that, reports of cyber security fears are consistently making the news but that shouldn’t be the sole focus. There is also the underlying, but growing, issue of physical document security. The move to remote working hasn’t removed these physical forms of data – think hard drives, USBs and paper based documentation. A recent surge in demand for home printers for example, only exemplifies the use of physical documents and the potential security issues home offices are facing. Adding to that, research conducted in 2020 found that two out of three employees who printed documents at home admitted to binning those documents both in and outside of their house without shredding them. Data security concern Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk Those findings present a huge data security concern, one that must be fixed immediately. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has since released guidance for those working from their bedrooms and dining tables. Designed to help overcome these challenges, the ‘security checklists’ and ‘top tips’ should be the first port of call for many. Yet throughout, the ICO make reference to ‘following your organization’s policies and guidance’ – highlighting that the onus isn’t solely on the individuals working from their makeshift offices. Office managers have a monumental task on their hands to ensure teams are well equipped within their home setups. Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk. But it would be wrong to insinuate that unsecure desk data has only now become an issue for organizations. Modern office spaces Keeping clear desks has long been a battle for many office managers. In fact, clear desk policies are practiced in most modern office spaces, with it recognized as a key preventative to personal information being wrongly accessed and so falling foul of GDPR legislation. Throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic However, the unsupervised aspect of home working has led to a potentially more lax approach to these policies, or in some cases, they can’t be followed at all. For those taking a more laid back approach, organization leaders must remind staff of their data security responsibilities and why clear desk policies have previously proven effective. Ultimately, throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic and this must be carried through to home workspaces now. Securely destroy documents There are also concerns over the equipment people have access to at home. For example, without a reliable home shredding solution, data security suddenly becomes a tougher task. To add to that, several recommendations state that employees working from home should avoid throwing documents away by instead transporting them to the office for shredding once lockdown rules ease. While this is an option, it does pose further issues, with document security at risk of accidental loss or even theft throughout the transportation period, not to mention the time spent in storage. The best and most effective way to securely destroy documents is at the source, especially in environments where higher levels of personal data is regularly handled. Correct shredding equipment The recent findings on home office behavior represent a true security risk Only when home workers implement their own clear desk policies alongside the correct shredding equipment (at the correct security level), can both home office spaces and regular offices become data secure. Realistically, these solutions should, like the common home printer, become a staple in home office spaces moving forward. The likelihood is that many UK workers will remain in their home offices for the foreseeable future, only to emerge as hybrid workers post-pandemic. And while the current working environment is more ideal for some than others, the recent findings on home office behavior represent a true security risk to organizations. With this in mind, it’s now more key than ever for business leaders, their office managers and homeworkers to all step up and get a handle on home data security policies (as well as maintaining their standards back at the office) – starting with the implementation of clear desk policies. After all, a clear desk equals a clear mind.