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The 13 Key Elements of an Insider Threat Program

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posted on 2023-10-27, 16:30 authored by Daniel CostaDaniel Costa, Randall TrzeciakRandall Trzeciak

In the last three years, since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the nature of the workplace has changed significantly. As of February, 76 percent of the workforce with a job that can be done from home in the United States was working a hybrid or completely remote schedule, according to Pew Research. Of that number, roughly one-third is completely remote. In this evolving work climate, organizations need to be increasingly vigilant against malicious and unintentional (non-malicious) insider incidents. Many organizations never experience a headline-grabbing, large-scale insider incident. Instead, many insider incidents are accidental or non-malicious, typically the result of a security incident or policy violation. According to our research, distraction is a key factor in unintentional insider threat incidents. Distracted workers are more likely to make mistakes that can endanger an organization, such as failing to use their company's virtual private network (VPN) or clicking on phishing links in email. For many hybrid and remote workers, distractions involving workspaces in close proximity to children and other family members can lead to unintentional risk. Comprehensive enterprise risk management that includes an insider risk program is a key component to securing organizations in this new environment. In this post, we present the 13 key elements of an insider threat program.


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This material is based upon work funded and supported by the Department of Defense under Contract No. FA8702-15-D-0002 with Carnegie Mellon University for the operation of the Software Engineering Institute, a federally funded research and development center. The view, opinions, and/or findings contained in this material are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Government position, policy, or decision, unless designated by other documentation. References herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Carnegie Mellon University or its Software Engineering Institute. This report was prepared for the SEI Administrative Agent AFLCMC/AZS 5 Eglin Street Hanscom AFB, MA 01731-2100. NO WARRANTY. THIS CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY AND SOFTWARE ENGINEERING INSTITUTE MATERIAL IS FURNISHED ON AN "AS-IS" BASIS. CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY MAKES NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, AS TO ANY MATTER INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR PURPOSE OR MERCHANTABILITY, EXCLUSIVITY, OR RESULTS OBTAINED FROM USE OF THE MATERIAL. CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY DOES NOT MAKE ANY WARRANTY OF ANY KIND WITH RESPECT TO FREEDOM FROM PATENT, TRADEMARK, OR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. [DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A] This material has been approved for public release and unlimited distribution. Please see Copyright notice for non-US Government use and distribution.

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