Identify and Mitigate Insider Threats to Your Business Data

by Jones David

Remote working is great for small businesses as they don’t have to manage or maintain an office or a dedicated data center. However, remote working invites all sorts of cyber threats, while the most dangerous of these are insider threats. Organizations without stringent security policies need to battle insider threats because they do not just arise from current employees; former employees or past contractors who still have access to the network can cause harm intentionally or unintentionally. 

You must deploy robust network security solutions like SASE to protect your organization and its assets. You can contact a SASE vendor and deploy a tailored solution that meets your business needs. The biggest feature of a SASE solution is using identity-based management policies to detect users and grant access. 

What Makes Insider Threats Dangerous? 

Insider threats are dangerous as they are not easy to detect. Since the intruder already has legitimate access to the network, they can access sensitive information and resources by posing as a regular user. This makes it difficult for the administrator to distinguish between an actual user’s normal activity and an insider’s anomalous activities. 

Four Types of Insider Threats 

The term insider threat is generally used to describe malicious behavior, but not all insiders are alike and may vary in terms of motivation, awareness, access level, and intention. Here are the four types: 

  1. Pawn
    Employees that are manipulated into performing malicious activities are recognized as pawns. These employees unintentionally become a part of a data leak as attackers obtain their credentials through phishing or social engineering. 
  2. Goof
    Even when goofs do not act with malicious intent, they take deliberate harmful actions. They are arrogant users who think the network security policies do not apply to them; these users do it as convenience or incompetence. 
  3. Collaborator
    Users who cooperate with third parties use their access privileges to harm the organization intentionally are labeled as collaborators. They typically use their access privileges to steal sensitive information to disrupt business operations. 
  4. Lone wolf
    Users that act independently without any external influence or manipulation are known as lone wolves. Elevated access privileges make them dangerous as they can steal sensitive information, sell it to competitors, or destroy it to cripple the organization. 

What’s the Right Way to Fight Insider Threats? 

The best way to fight insider threats is to deploy a Secure Access Service Edge solution to protect your organization. SASE combines multiple security frameworks to improve the network’s security and reduce the efforts and costs required for an optimal security posture that mitigates insider threats.

SASE creates a single cloud-based network that connects and secures the entire organizational network. A SASE solution:

  • Operates on the cloud
    A SASE architecture contains elasticity, and its ability to heal and maintain itself makes it perfect for the cloud SASE can rapidly expand the network to meet immediate business needs and maintain global secure access. 
  • Uses identity-based authentication
    SASE builds user and resource identities to track users and users as they access different resources on the network while maintaining the user experience and quality of cloud service. SASE runs every connection request through granular security policies before granting access.
  • Covers the network globally
    SASE delivers high-performance networking and security policies to maintain low latency at every remote device over the global network. It hides cloud applications over the Internet and ensures availability to users defined in the security policy. 

Components of a SASE Infrastructure

SASE combines the following components to build a flexible and secure cloud-native infrastructure

  1. SD-WAN
    SASE uses a Software-Defined Wide Area Network as an overlay to reduce complexities and optimize the user experience of an organization’s cloud application. It defines the fastest route for the traffic to move towards the Internet, cloud applications, and the organization’s in-house data center. Developers can introduce new applications and services that assist the organization in monitoring the network through security control policies across multiple locations. 
  2. SWG
    Secure Web Gateways prevent users from accessing unsecured websites on the internet. Organizations rely on SWGs to protect remote employees from malware that can be embedded in websites. Hackers use malware to extract user credentials from devices and compromise the network’s security. 
  3. ZTNA
    Zero Trust Network Access facilitates secure access for remote employees who work from their homes and require access to their organization’s cloud resources. ZTNA operates on the don’t trust anyone and verify everyone principle, which ensures least privileged access according to the organization’s granular policies. ZTNA allows remote users to access cloud resources without drawing unwanted attention from hackers on the Internet. 
  4. CASB
    A Cloud Access Security Broker prevents data leaks, stops malware infections, and improves network visibility. SASE uses CASB to ensure cloud application safety while elevating the organization’s compliance with regulatory agencies. Organizations deploy CASB to secure the cloud apps that they host on public or private clouds. 

How Does a SASE Solution Help Mitigate Insider Threats? 

Secure Access Service Edge leverages Identity Access Management and Zero Trust to track how users behave as they access the network. SASE enhances the administrator’s visibility into the network through a centralized management console. Meanwhile, the Zero Trust aspect of SASE converts the network into multiple microsegments while continuously authenticating and authorizing users. 

Since ZTNA credentials and device ID to grant the least privileges and enforce granular security policies to restrict lateral movement through the segments. SASE monitors the entire network, and if it detects unusual user behavior, the system immediately revokes the access and notifies the administrator to verify the user manually. 

Therefore, even if a former employee accesses the network, the system will immediately detect that the user is not using a registered device approved by the organization. At this point, it may not grant access, but even if it allows access without the proper device, SASE will notify the administrator if the user tries to access information that is not a part of their segment. 

Additionally, you can integrate the following tools to enhance your network security further: 

  1. Data Loss Prevention
    DLP policies allow organizations to secure their data while preventing unwanted destruction and distribution of intellectual property in case of an insider breach. 
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication
    MFA adds an extra layer of security to the login process by sending a security code to a registered phone number or email address. Most organizations use an official mailbox, which they can block after an employee leaves. 


Organizations must implement preventive measures that ensure data integrity and confidentiality. Even if hackers infiltrate their secure perimeter by acquiring user accounts, a SASE solution can detect anomalies in user behavior and immediately revoke access to protect the network. 

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