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CISOs-Practical Guide and Set of Worksheets for Building Insider Threat Program

An insider risk management program is intended to mitigate risks from within an organization that could potentially lead to unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of the organization’s information. These risks could originate from current or former employees, contractors, or business associates who have access to confidential information.

A robust insider risk management program usually includes the following elements:

  1. Policies and procedures: Putting in place clear and comprehensive policies and procedures that outline the conduct expected of employees, contractors, and partners. These should cover areas such as data handling, confidentiality, and acceptable use of IT systems.
  2. Access control: Implementing a need-to-know policy, granting access to sensitive data only to those who require it for their job. Regularly review access rights to ensure they remain appropriate.
  3. Training and awareness: Conducting regular training to raise awareness of insider threats and educate staff about their roles and responsibilities in protecting sensitive data. This could include identifying suspicious behavior, data handling, and reporting procedures.
  4. Behavioral monitoring: Implementing systems to detect unusual or suspicious actions. This could involve monitoring patterns of network traffic, log-in activity, file access, and more. AI-based systems can be particularly effective at detecting anomalies.
  5. Incident response plan: Having a plan in place for responding to insider threats, including steps for investigation, containment, recovery, and follow-up.
  6. Risk assessment: Regularly performing risk assessments to identify potential insider threats. This should include analysis of roles, access rights, and conduct of staff members, contractors, and partners.
  7. Whistleblower protection: Encouraging reporting of suspicious behavior by providing a safe, anonymous reporting mechanism and protecting those who report from retaliation.
  8. Regular auditing: Regularly reviewing and testing the insider risk management program to ensure it is effective, and updating it as necessary based on changes in the organization’s structure, technology, or business environment.
  9. Legal and HR involvement: Working closely with the legal and HR departments to handle insider threats effectively and legally. Actions taken against suspected insiders must be legally defensible, and policies should be in place to deal with employment contracts and dismissals.
  10. User activity monitoring: Employing User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) to spot abnormal conduct in real time that could indicate an insider threat. This technology uses machine learning, data science, and behavioral analytics to detect when users deviate from established patterns.

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