The incorrect use of personal devices or the inadvertent corruption of mission-critical data by a government employee can turn out to be more than simple accidents. These activities can escalate into threats that can result in national security concerns.
These types of accidents happen more frequently than one might expect — and they’ve got government IT professionals worried, because one of the biggest concern continues to be threats from within.
In last year's cybersecurity survey, my company SolarWinds discovered that administrators are especially cognizant of the potential for fellow colleagues to make havoc — inducing mistakes. Yes, it’s true: government technology professionals are just as concerned about the person next to them making a mistake as they are of an external Anonymous-style group or a rogue hacker.
So, what are agencies doing to tackle internal mistakes? Primarily, they’re bolstering federal security policies with their own security policies for end users. This involves gathering intelligence and providing information and training to employees about possible entry points for attacks.
While this is a good initial approach, it’s not nearly enough.
The issue is the sheer volume of devices and data that are creating the mistakes in the first place. Unauthorized and unsecure devices could be compromising the network at any given time, without users even realizing it. Phishing attacks, accidental deletion or modification of critical data, and more have all become much more likely to occur.
Any monitoring of potential security issues should include the use of technology that allows IT administrators to pinpoint threats as they arise, so they may be addressed immediately and without damage.
Thankfully, there are a variety of best practices and tools that address these concerns and nicely complement the policies and training already in place, including:
Monitoring connections and devices on the network and maintaining logs of user activity to track user activities.
Identifying what is or was on the network by monitoring network performance for anomalies, tracking devices, offering network configuration and change management, managing IT assets, and monitoring IP addresses.
Implementing tools identified as critical to preventing accidental insider threats, such as those for identity and access management, internal threat detection and intelligence, intrusion detection and prevention, SIEM or log management, and Network Admission Control.
Our survey respondents called out each of these tools as useful in preventing insider threats. Together and separately, they can assist in isolating and targeting network anomalies. They can help IT professionals correlate a problem directly to a particular user. The software, combined with the policies and training, can help administrators attack issue before it goes from simple mistake to “Houston, we have a problem.”
The fact is, data that’s accidentally lost can easily become data that’s intentionally stolen. As such, you can’t afford to ignore accidental threats, because even the smallest error can turn into a very large problem.
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