On September 22nd, a security incident involving the violation of data belonging to almost 200 merchants (and their customers) was revealed by the Canadian-based e-commerce firm, Shopify. Two rogue members of their support staff were involved in a conspiracy to procure client transactional information of selected retailers, according to the company’s report. Shopify admitted that client records, including passwords, names , addresses, and order data, may have been leaked by the compromised online stores. Paid card numbers or other confidential personal / financial details for Shopify reports is not part of the incident. However, the investigation into the violations is only in its early stages and, thus, the full scope of the leaked data has not yet been determined.
An unpleasant example of how cyber-attacks are carried out today is the Shopify hack. Rather than a hooded figure breaching a network in the darkness, two of Shopify’s own workers went wild. The question becomes, with an adversary lurking inside, what steps will companies take to mitigate their vulnerability to insider threats?
Insider Threats on the Rise in frequency and costs
Over the last two years, according to the 2020 Cost of Insider Risks Global Study by the Ponemon Institute, insider-related events have risen by 47 percent. Around the same moment, to $11.45 million, the total global expense of insider attacks increased by 31 percent. Such figures are very alarming, particularly because they come at a time of global prosperity and development. These threats are compounded by today’s economic environment, as imminent furloughs or pay cuts can tempt workers to exfiltrate data to obtain a new career, compensate for reductions in income, etc. That’s why much of this year’s high-profile attacks were carried out for financial gain, rather than by national states or hacktivists.
An insider danger may be a case of unwitting misunderstanding, a dissatisfied worker, someone inside the company who wants to test the limits or make a fast buck, or a business associate who threatens safety by incompetence, misuse, or malicious entry. A common denominator of these attacks, however, is that they usually take place under the cover of credibility. The greatest enabler in insider attacks is the fact that the attacker has expanded access rights to confidential data and apps in 61 percent of cases, according to the 2020 Insider Vulnerability Survey by Cybersecurity Insiders.
So, to mitigate their visibility, what steps will organisations take? In controlling access and privilege, the solution lies. Many companies provide their managers, consultants, and collaborators with so much luxury. Traditional perimeter protection may not guard against compromised insiders who wish sensitive knowledge to be released. In order to match new risks, companies need to change their security policies, step away from lax password processes and unsecured privileged access, and instead turn their attention on implementing administrative access restrictions focused on a minimum privilege strategy.
To counter insider risks, companies should consider taking the following steps:
- Enforce job segregation: separate roles, particularly for processes and tasks that are responsive or shared. This means that a single task alone can not be accomplished by any individual. For example , organisations may enforce so-called “accessible zones” in this sense to bind the privileges a person has to unique services.
- Create the least privilege: Delegate appropriate and just-in-time access to resources needed for the job to privileged users. Leave zero standing rights to be harnessed.
- Implement permission request and acceptance workflows: Control elevation of privilege with self-service access requests and multi-level permissions to collect who accepted access and the request-related context.
- Leverage user and organisation behaviour analytics to track privileged user activities based on machine-learning technologies. Which can help recognise suspicious and high-risk behaviour that can be used to cause real-time warnings or revoke rights, whether internal or external to the enterprise, to deter threat actors.
Now that a record number of people have been laid off and face financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the possibility of company workers walking away with confidential data or selling their access privileges has never been greater. In answer, in order to strengthen their cyber hygiene, organisations should adopt the guidelines mentioned above. In order to keep insider attacks at bay, these best practises will go a long way.