Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone

insider threat

Insider threats are among an organization’s biggest security challenges. Consider three recent events:
In February 2010, a 47-year old female professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville killed three colleagues and wounded three others in a shooting rampage at a biology department staff meeting.


In September 2014, a communications contractor set fire to an FAA Air Traffic Control Center in Aurora, Illinois, grounding more than 2,000 flights in Chicago, as part of plan to “take out” the center and kill himself.


In April 2016, a former Energy Department employee was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of helping a foreign government infiltrate the agency’s computer system to steal nuclear secrets and then attempting an email “spear-phishing” attack in an FBI sting operation.


The common theme for these three events?  All were attacks by “insiders,” specifically employees, former employees, contractors, or business associates who have inside information about an organization’s security systems, data, or computer networks.


“Insiders” pose a substantial threat to all types of organization – government agencies, private sector companies, non-profit entities, and educational institutions.  This is because “insiders” have the knowledge and access which allows them to bypass the security measures designed to keep out outside intruders.


The insider threat encompasses a range of malicious attacks:  (1) those directed at a network or computer system by a person with authorized system access that result in the damage, destruction, or exfiltration of valuable and sensitive data; (2) those that damage or destroy property or disrupt the organization’s essential operations; (3) violence in the workplace committed by an employee or contractor, or former worker.  This is a subset of the larger problem of violence against workers inside and outside the workplace.


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), violence can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.  In 2014 alone, 403 Americans were murdered at work.


It is essential for organizations to protect themselves from insider threats before a serious problem occurs.  Potential incidents should be stopped in real-time and suspicious activity detected before it results in actual harm, such as violence, theft, fraud, damage, destruction, leaks and other unauthorized disclosure.


FBI recommendations for protection against threats from insiders include:


  • Educate and regularly train employees on security or other protocols.
  • Use appropriate screening processes to select new employees.
  • Provide non-threatening, convenient ways for employees to report suspicious behavior or activity.

Among OSHA’s recommendations to prevent workplace violence:


  • Provide safety education for employees so they know what conduct is not acceptable, what to do if they witness or are subjected to workplace violence, and how to protect themselves.
  • Secure the workplace. Where appropriate, install video surveillance, extra lighting, and alarm systems and minimize access by outsiders through identification badges, electronic keys, and guards.

The common denominator for these recommendations is training.  Chameleon’s Counter Insider Threat Training provides step-by-step methods for understanding and mitigating the various insider threats.  It is ideal for anyone tasked with preventing threats that originate from within, be it violence, espionage, embezzlement, sabotage, hacking, infiltration, and much more.


For details on the course and its curriculum, go to: