Threat Management, Identity, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

Insider threats accounted for more than a third of unauthorized access incidents in Q3

A job seeker holds a briefcase as he waits in line to meet with recruiters.
A job seeker holds a briefcase as he waits in line to meet with recruiters. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The pandemic saw a great number of employees seeking new opportunities as the workforce shifted to remote and hybrid models. The threat of insider risk, however, also increased along with the so-called “Great Resignation” of 2021 and 2022.

According to a report by security risk management firm Kroll, insider threats peaked to its highest quarterly level to date in Q3 of 2022, accounting for nearly 35% of all unauthorized access threat incidents. 

“While always a challenge, the risk of insider threat is particularly high during the employee termination process,” wrote the report’s authors. 

As noted in the Kroll report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development registered an overall net gain of more than 9 million jobs in June 2022 for OECD countries compared with pre-pandemic levels.

(Kroll cyber intelligence report)

Insider threats are among the hardest to detect, said John Bambenek, principal threat hunter at Netenrich.

“If employees come and go quickly, that means they can purloin data and secrets before an organization is any wiser for it,” said Bambenek. “Ultimately, new employees should have guardrails into what intellectual property they can access and existing techniques to look for trade secret theft need to be fully deployed.”

But as U.S. job growth increased more than expected in October, the pace is slowing and the unemployment rate rose to 3.7%, according to Reuters

And as the end of 2022 nears, even the tech industry does not seem immune from economic uncertainty as layoffs hit social media giants Twitter and Meta, and Google and Amazon have announced hiring freezes or slowdowns.

A new Harris Poll of 2,000 job seekers in the U.S. found over 70% saying it’s been harder for them to find a good role, reported Fortune, leading to what is now being referred to as the “Great Remorse.”

The increase in a hybrid or remote workforce, compounded with increasing uncertainty in the job market, has prioritized insider risk management as a focus area for security and risk management leaders, said Hoxhunt CEO Mika Aalto. 

“The human element continues to feature in the majority of data breaches, a clear signal that traditional approaches are no longer effective,” Aalto said.

Stephen Weigand

Stephen Weigand is managing editor and production manager for SC Media. He has worked for news media in Washington, D.C., covering military and defense issues, as well as federal IT. He is based in the Seattle area.

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