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The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Are Inside Your Company

Abstract: 
There’s a high chance that the source of any given cybersecurity threat is from an insider within a company, rather than some external foreign hacker group. According to IBM’s 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, 60% of all attacks were carried out by company insiders; yet not all were malicious in nature. 25% of these attacks were caused by inadvertent actors and the other 75% were indeed involved malicious intent. The study also found that the top three industry that fell victim to cyberattacks were health care, manufacturing, and financial services. The main point of the article is that despite the reasons for attacking various industries and the differing technology infrastructure to combat the attacks, human error is the weakest link in the chain, and is ultimately the commonality between businesses. It’s particularly dangerous when a trusted insider with infrastructure control makes mistakes, as these are the most costly. For example, an IT admin opening a malicious email can lead to an adversary’s central control over a company’s technology infrastructure. Sometimes employees will leak passwords on purpose, or steal proprietary data, which in turn can result in severe vulnerabilities. Employee systems may also be hijacked via malware and phishing, again leading to potential loss of control and leaking of sensitive data. In all of these cases, it is a human being that is responsible for the vulnerabilities, much more so than the technology or systems themselves. As a result, there have been attempts at environments where no single actor can be trusted to decrease the human-error factor, however this comes at a severe cost to productivity and innovation. An alternative solution is to use artificial intelligence to help monitor system behavior to look for anomalies. This works based on the fact that humans follow patterns, and deviations from those patterns might indicate a compromised system. As usual, this type of defense does come at the cost of privacy in a certain sense since monitoring behavior requires deep analysis of employee systems. Keywords: insiders, human error, cyberthreat, vulnerability, deep analytics, trust
Author: 
Marc van Zadelhoff
Input By: 
Keith Orlando
Affiliation: 
MIT
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Industry Focus: 
Internet & Cyberspace
Datatype(s): 
Indicators
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