Insider risk: What are you doing to protect your business IP and data from malicious or disgruntled employees?

In today's digital age, businesses are increasingly reliant on technology and data to run their operations and with that comes the risk of insider threats. Insider risk is the threat that comes from within the organisation, typically from employees or contractors who have access to sensitive data or systems. These individuals may have malicious intent or may accidentally expose data through carelessness or lack of awareness. Insider risk can lead to significant financial loss, reputational damage and legal repercussions for organisations.

In Australia, insider risk is a growing concern for businesses of all sizes. According to the 2021 Insider Threat Report, 57% of organisations have experienced an insider attack in the last 12 months, with 74% of those attacks resulting in data loss. Furthermore, insider incidents have increased by 47% in the past two years. These statistics highlight the need for businesses to take proactive measures to protect their data and systems from insider threats.

Data loss prevention (DLP)

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a set of technologies and processes that help organisations identify, monitor and protect sensitive data from unauthorised access or disclosure. DLP solutions can detect and prevent sensitive data from leaving the organisation through email, instant messaging, cloud storage, USB drives and other channels.

DLP strategies

To effectively mitigate insider risk, businesses should implement a comprehensive DLP strategy that includes the following:

  • Data classification: Data is classified based on its level of sensitivity and value. This allows organisations to identify which data requires the highest level of protection.
  • Access control: The process of limiting access to data based on user roles and permissions. By controlling access to data, businesses can reduce the risk of data exposure and prevent unauthorised access.
  • Monitoring and auditing: Configuring DLP solutions to monitor user activity and network traffic to detect suspicious behaviour.
  • Incident response: Businesses should have a clear incident response plan in place in case of a data breach or insider attack. This plan should include steps for identifying the source of the breach, containing the damage and notifying affected parties.

Whistleblower reporting program

Another important component of an effective insider risk management program is a whistleblower reporting program. Whistleblowing programs encourage employees to report suspicious activity or behaviour that could indicate insider threat. This could include unauthorised access to systems, unusual data transfers or attempts to bypass security measures. By encouraging employees to report these incidents, businesses can detect insider threats early and take action to prevent data loss.

For businesses to enhance the effectiveness of whistleblower programs, it is important that such programs are easily accessible, confidential and provide clear instructions on how to report incidents. One way to create a secure and supportive work environment, where employees feel respected and heard, is by adopting an external third-party platform to manage complaints. This proactive approach can help foster a culture of inclusivity and respect within the organisation.

Independent whistleblower solution

By using an external whistleblower and complaints management service, staff members can remain anonymous when reporting concerns or complaints. This anonymity can increase the likelihood of timely reporting, ultimately reducing the risk of undetected fraud, financial loss, and reputational damage. Overall, the sooner a complaint is raised, the better the chances are of addressing and minimising potential negative consequences.

A high-quality, external whistleblower and complaints management service delivers:

  • Confidentiality, impartiality and anonymity
  • Accessibility through a 24-hour online reporting, email and hotline service
  • Investigators and call takers with expertise in obtaining quality information from callers
  • Access control
  • Secure data management
  • De-identified reporting capability.

Insider risk is a growing threat to businesses in Australia and around the world. By taking a proactive approach to insider risk management, businesses can minimise the risk of financial loss, reputational damage, and legal repercussions.

At PKF Integrity, we specialise in managing whistleblower and other types of conduct complaints with the added benefit of an independent whistleblower and conduct complaints management system. If you’d like to know more about what we do and how we do it, please see our services here.

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