Threat Intelligence, Risk Assessments/Management

September is National Insider Threat Awareness Month

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September marks National Insider Threat Awareness Month (NITAM), which designed to educate government agencies, private sector organizations and consumers on the risks posed by insider threats.

Launched in 2019, the month-long event is also intended to promote the development and implementation of effective insider threat programs. The program was initially established by the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) and the National Insider Threat Task Force (NITTF).

"Bystander Engagement" Emphasized

This year, NITAM spotlights "bystander engagement" as its theme, underscoring the vital role individuals play in identifying and responding to concerning behaviors.

Three security experts- — Carl D'Halluin, Datadobi chief technical officer; Steve Santamaria, chief executive of Folio Photonics; and Seth Blank, Valimail chief technical officer — commented on the topic of insider threats.

  • Datadobi is a Belgium-based develop of unstructured data management software.
  • Folio Photonics, headquartered in Solon, Ohio, makes an immutable active archive solution.
  • Valimail, located in San Francisco, California, offers a domain message authentication reporting (DMARC)-as-a-Service platform.

The NITAM annual campaign "reminds us" that mitigating insider threats demands a comprehensive strategy spanning a variety of countermeasures, Datadobi’s D’Halluin said. As he explained:

“Insider threats lurk within the very heart of organizations, disguised as trusted employees, partners, or collaborators. These individuals, armed with access privileges, possess the potential to wreak havoc that is often unseen until it's too late. Their actions can shatter the security foundation of a company, leading to catastrophic data breaches, financial ruin through fraud, and irreparable damage to reputation.”

Halluin continued:

“The organized structuring of data enhances visibility, making it easier to pinpoint sensitive information and recognize unauthorized access or movement. When potential threats are identified, the solution enables organizations to take swift and precise actions, such as restricting access, initiating investigations, and/or moving data to another location, minimizing the potential damage.”

Emphaizing the overall importance of NITAM cannot be overstated, Folio Photonics' Santamaria said:

“The campaign, which takes place each year in September, highlights the stark reality that employees, strategic partners, and other insiders with authorized access can inadvertently or intentionally inflict significant damage. This threat transcends industries, affecting both government entities and private businesses, as trust and access intersect in today's interconnected digital landscape.”

Santamaria also explained how NITAM “extends beyond simply shedding light” on the issue:

“It drives us to seek effective mitigations, such as an active archive, which is an advanced technology designed to provide efficient and secure data storage while enabling quick access and retrieval of information… NITAM stands as an annual rallying cry — a time to renew our commitment to cybersecurity and acknowledge that, while trust is invaluable, preparedness is non-negotiable.”

In commenting on Valimail’s DMARC-as-a-service offering, chief technical officer Blank compared DMARC to the “equivalent of a bouncer checking IDs at an exclusive nightclub":

“Its primary role is to ensure that only authorized individuals — essentially those on the guest list — can gain entry. DMARC’s primary function is to make certain that unauthorized entities are both easily detectable and unable to impersonate your employees or executives, which if left unaddressed can turn an external threat into an internal one.”

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.