Insider Threat Prevention, Detection and Mitigation

Insider Threat Prevention, Detection and Mitigation

Robert F. Mills (Air Force Institute of Technology, USA), Gilbert L. Peterson (Air Force Institute of Technology, USA) and Michael R. Grimaila (Air Force Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-326-5.ch003
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The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the insider threat and discuss methods for preventing, detecting, and responding to the threat. Trusted insiders present one of the most significant risks to an organization. They possess elevated privileges when compared to external users, have knowledge about technical and non-technical control measures, and potentially can bypass security measures designed to prevent, detect, or react to unauthorized access. In this chapter, we define the insider threat and summarize various case studies of insider attacks in order to highlight the severity of the problem. We then discuss best practices for preventing, detecting, and mitigating insider attacks, to include application of risk management principles specific to the insider threat. Finally, we provide a survey of ongoing research into detecting irregular activities that are potentially harmful to an organization.
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Organizations have long relied on security controls (e.g., combinations of policies, processes, and technologies) to reduce their exposure to harmful acts by individuals within, and outside, its perimeter to an acceptable level. As organizations have embedded more information technology into their core processes, risk mitigation has shifted from a primarily physical control issue to an electronic one. While many organizations spend a significant amount of resources on mitigating risks originating from outside the organizational perimeter, few explicitly consider the threats originating from trusted insiders. This is despite the fact that insider activities can result in significant losses in revenue, intellectual property, and reputation if the organization fails to prevent, detect, and mitigate insider threats.

Damage from insider activity, regardless of the intent, can be very significant, and perhaps even crippling. Insiders may disrupt internal network operations, corrupt databases and file servers, or deny the use of information systems and their data to authorized users. Staggering amounts of information can be stolen, lost, deleted, or corrupted literally at the press of a button. For example, an individual who mistakenly thought she was going to be fired deleted files from a computer system valued at $2.5 million (Kamm, 2008). Malicious insiders may even collude with outside parties to receive technical assistance or to help identify useful information (USDOJ/OIG, 2003). The fallout from such activities may in turn result in significant losses in corporate revenue and reputation. Unfortunately, when addressing security risks, many focus on the problem of perimeter security where we have seen tremendous advances in security technology, with countless dollars invested in perimeter security, encryption, antivirus systems, and content filtering, all of which aim to keep outsiders from harming the organization. Ironically, most security professionals would agree the insider poses the greatest risk to information systems and is the most difficult to detect (Denning, 1987; Insider Threat IPT, 2000; CSO, 2007).

Figure 1 illustrates the various factors involved in mitigating the insider threat. The figure is not all-inclusive but addresses the main points covered in this chapter. First, we have a notional organization with information systems (IS) and services that are of high, medium, and low values of importance to the organization. The organization employs security mechanisms to protect and monitor IS usage, such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, auditing and authentication systems. The organization has vulnerabilities that arise from gaps in security policies and inherent flaws in the IS and security mechanisms. Finally, the organization has people—insiders—who represent potential threats to the organization by virtue of the access and trust granted to them. Some insiders are benign while others act with malicious intent and motivation. Insider behavior produces observables which should monitored by the organization to ensure compliance with established policies.

Figure 1.

Defining the insider threat problem

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Merrill Warkentin
Kenneth J. Knapp
Kenneth J. Knapp
Chapter 1
Jaziar Radianti, Jose J. Gonzalez
This chapter discusses the possible growth of black markets (BMs) for software vulnerabilities and factors affecting their spread. It is difficult... Sample PDF
Dynamic Modeling of the Cyber Security Threat Problem: The Black Market for Vulnerabilities
Chapter 2
Somak Bhattacharya, Samresh Malhotra, S. K. Ghosh
As networks continue to grow in size and complexity, automatic assessment of the security vulnerability becomes increasingly important. The typical... Sample PDF
An Attack Graph Based Approach for Threat Identification of an Enterprise Network
Chapter 3
Robert F. Mills, Gilbert L. Peterson, Michael R. Grimaila
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the insider threat and discuss methods for preventing, detecting, and responding to the threat. Trusted... Sample PDF
Insider Threat Prevention, Detection and Mitigation
Chapter 4
Richard T. Gordon, Allison S. Gehrke
This chapter describes a methodology for assessing security infrastructure effectiveness utilizing formal mathematical models. The goal of this... Sample PDF
An Autocorrelation Methodology for the Assessment of Security Assurance
Chapter 5
Ken Webb
This chapter results from a qualitative research study finding that a heightened risk for management has emerged from a new security environment... Sample PDF
Security Implications for Management from the Onset of Information Terrorism
Chapter 6
Yves Barlette, Vladislav V. Fomin
This chapter introduces major information security management methods and standards, and particularly ISO/IEC 27001 and 27002 standards. A... Sample PDF
The Adoption of Information Security Management Standards: A Literature Review
Chapter 7
Peter R. Marksteiner
Information overload is an increasingly familiar phenomenon, but evolving United States military doctrine provides a new analytical approach and a... Sample PDF
Data Smog, Techno Creep and the Hobbling of the Cognitive Dimension
Chapter 8
John W. Bagby
The public expects that technologies used in electronic commerce and government will enhance security while preserving privacy. These expectations... Sample PDF
Balancing the Public Policy Drivers in the Tension between Privacy and Security
Chapter 9
Indira R. Guzman, Kathryn Stam, Shaveta Hans, Carole Angolano
The goal of our study is to contribute to a better understanding of role conflict, skill expectations, and the value of information technology (IT)... Sample PDF
Human Factors in Security: The Role of Information Security Professionals within Organizations
Chapter 10
Nikolaos Bekatoros HN, Jack L. Koons III, Mark E. Nissen
The US Government is moving apace to develop doctrines and capabilities that will allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to exploit Cyberspace for... Sample PDF
Diagnosing Misfits, Inducing Requirements, and Delineating Transformations within Computer Network Operations Organizations
Chapter 11
Rodger Jamieson, Stephen Smith, Greg Stephens, Donald Winchester
This chapter outlines components of a strategy for government and a conceptual identity fraud enterprise management framework for organizations to... Sample PDF
An Approach to Managing Identity Fraud
Chapter 12
Alanah Davis, Gert-Jan de Vreede, Leah R. Pietron
This chapter presents a repeatable collaboration process as an approach for developing a comprehensive Incident Response Plan for an organization or... Sample PDF
A Repeatable Collaboration Process for Incident Response Planning
Chapter 13
Dean A. Jones, Linda K Nozick, Mark A. Turnquist, William J. Sawaya
A pandemic influenza outbreak could cause serious disruption to operations of several critical infrastructures as a result of worker absenteeism.... Sample PDF
Pandemic Influenza, Worker Absenteeism and Impacts on Critical Infrastructures: Freight Transportation as an Illustration
Chapter 14
Preeti Singh, Pranav Singh, Insu Park, JinKyu Lee
We live in a digital era where the global community relies on Information Systems to conduct all kinds of operations, including averting or... Sample PDF
Information Sharing: A Study of Information Attributes and their Relative Significance During Catastrophic Events
Chapter 15
Gregory B. White, Mark L. Huson
The protection of cyberspace is essential to ensure that the critical infrastructures a nation relies on are not corrupted or disrupted. Government... Sample PDF
An Overview of the Community Cyber Security Maturity Model
Chapter 16
Doug White, Alan Rea
In this chapter the authors present essential server security components and develop a set of logical steps to build hardened servers. The authors... Sample PDF
Server Hardening Model Development: A Methodology-Based Approach to Increased System Security
Chapter 17
Jeff Teo
Computer attacks of all sorts are commonplace in today’s interconnected, globalized society. A computer worm, written and released in one part of... Sample PDF
Trusted Computing: Evolution and Direction
Chapter 18
Miguel Jose Hernandez y Lopez, Carlos Francisco Lerma Resendez
This chapter discusses the basic aspects of Honeypots, how they are implemented in modern computer networks, as well as their practical uses and... Sample PDF
Introduction, Classification and Implementation of Honeypots
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