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Who can be the Potential Threat in your IT Network?

The Context

An individual who knows a lot about the workforce, work patterns, or an organization’s business structure and is privy to confidential information just because he/she is a part of the organization is an insider. Why do insiders turn malicious? There are several reasons behind it, but greed, vengeance, or disgruntlement are the predominant factors among them. 

Whatever the reason, the ill effects of insider threats are long-lasting, and there have been instances where the victims have faced non-compliance penalties as well due to insider attacks. 

Insider threats have intensified in recent years due to the rapid expansion of the IT environment, the proliferation of cloud infrastructure, and the huge growth in user populations (digital identities). 

According to an alarming report by Forbes, the number of cyber incidents caused by insiders has risen by 47% in the last couple of years. It is said that the continuous evolution and revolution of information access control techniques has given the opportunity to malicious insiders to create and recreate new threat patterns.

Let us delve a bit deeper into the reasons behind the proliferation of insider threats.

 

Who are the users and what are the threats?

There are different security vulnerabilities and threat patterns associated with different users in an organization. 

Standard IT users: Almost 70–80% of an organization’s workforce consists of standard IT users. With the increase in the number of standard IT users, there are hundreds of login credentials existing in an enterprise IT infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted access to the systems and applications. The maximum probabilities of insider threats always revolve around the most standard users.

 

Solution: To prevent typical threats arising from standard users, ARCON’s Identity and Access Management solution offers a stringent password rotation mechanism that automatically creates dynamic and complex passwords and enhances access control security. The solution governs, audits, and manages the lifecycle of each and every digital identity and ensures robust authentication and authorization for information systems to keep insider threats in check. 

Database users: Database users can be categorized based on their roles and access patterns in the organizations’ database. There are

  1. Database administrators: A database administrator is a person responsible for directing and performing each and every activity related to the maintenance of a successful database environment. As the database is a treasure trove for classified information, it bears the risk of unauthorized access. Hence, it requires intense monitoring and analysis of the log activities to keep insider threats at bay. 
  2. Elevated or privileged users: In an organization, elevated or privileged users have greater access to target systems than typical standard users. Privileged or elevated users have different sets of credentials that offer access to confidential information. But what about the risks that could arise from the increased number of privileged users? One never knows who is accessing which system or application with what intention. So, insider risks are omnipresent.

Solution: A robust and feature-rich privileged access management (PAM) solution can help organizations analyze, predict, and prevent insider threats in real time. ARCON’s Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution offers complete governance of the identities and provides granular level access to critical systems. ARCON | PAM’s Just-In-Time (JIT) privilege tool ensures that every privileged access is happening on a “need-to-know” and “need-to-do” basis and for a pre-defined limited period. This helps to remove unnecessary and excessively elevated (privileged) users in an IT environment.

Password vaulting, multi-factor authentication, and continuous session monitoring, along with session management, enable database administrators to ensure that only authorized and genuine users access confidential enterprise data. Regular reporting of their activities helps to detect any suspicious movement that has happened internally and is eventually beneficial for audits.

Application administrators: Application administrators take care of a different range of tasks related to the applications, including technical support and troubleshooting. They generally provide support directly to the end-users and may also bridge the gap between internal teams and external clients. The possible security threats of an application administrator lie in managing excessive requests from the on-boarded users and troubleshooting machines on time. Any unwanted, unrecognized, and unauthorized access can result in an untoward incident.

Solution: ARCON’s Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution offers a desk insight feature that helps administrators manage requests from any on-boarded desktop in the enterprise network. It even automates the troubleshooting of a machine without moving from one desktop to the other. As a result, it secures the IT environment with complete control of access-related tasks.

Application users: In the post-pandemic era, we have observed the trend of hybrid work environments where most end-users work from anywhere, anytime, and from any device. This results in ambiguity over who is accessing which application, when, and for what purpose. Lack of role-wise profiling and access permissions to the designated applications invites insider threats that could remain unnoticed and undetected for a long time. Furthermore, suspicious behavioral patterns could become insider threats if there are no mechanisms to check users based on their risk scores.

Solution: ARCON’s Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) solution helps IT admins learn and determine the behaviour of onboarded users. Once the onboarded users request the admins to allow endpoint access to any particular application, the admins grant just-in-time endpoint access based on their roles and responsibilities. The EPM solution secures the accessed application from any unauthorized access because, once the designated task is over, the permission is also revoked automatically. Moreover, it detects anomalous user profiles in real-time based on the risk scores (with the help of embedded AI/ML capabilities) and ensures controlled and restricted access to critical applications. With this, the administrator finds it easy to monitor the end-user activities seamlessly.

Conclusion

Insider threats can arise from any IT layer and from any IT user. It is one of the most challenging threats that every organization faces every day. By deploying essential access control safeguards, organizations can significantly reduce insider threats. 

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