Insider Threat Surveys, Reports, Incidents, Damages



Could Your Organization Recover From The Damages An Insider Threat Incident Could Cause?

Insider Threats Incidents - Could These Happen To Your Organization



What Could An Insider Threat Incident Cost A Business?
How many companies could afford a $25 Million Dollar Penalty like AT&T suffered because of an insider threat incident? The FCC penalty clearly sent a message, secure your data or be fined.

Fines AT&T $25 Million For Privacy Breach-Insider Threat



Employee Sabotages Company's Network Servers
When Mitchell learned he was going to be fired in June of 2012 from the oil and gas company EnerVest Operating, he “remotely accessed EnerVest’s computer systems and reset the company’s network servers to factory settings, essentially eliminating access to all the company’s data and applications for its eastern United States operations,” a Department of Justice spokesperson wrote in a release on his conviction. “Before his access to EnerVest’s offices could be terminated, Mitchell entered the office after business hours, disconnected critical pieces of…network equipment, and disabled the equipment’s cooling system.” As a result of his actions, the company permanently lost some of its data and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing equipment and recovering historical data. It took a month to bring the company’s office back online, costing the company as much as $1 million in lost business.

Home Depot’s Former Security Architect Had History Of Techno-Sabotage



NITSIG Insider Threat Awareness E-Magazine (Link)
Read through this on-line resource to see story after story related to the insider threat to government and businesses.


NITSIG Workplace Violence E-Magazine (Link)

Workplace Violence - The Type Of Insider Threat Requiring Much Great Attention

  • Unfortunately very disgruntled employees "Insiders" have resorted to workplace violence, in some cases resulting in the deaths of innocent coworkers. A company that ignores the warnings signs could face legal action.

  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 2 million employees are victims of workplace violence each year. 18% of violent crimes are committed at the workplace, and roughly 800 workplace homicides occur each year. Between January 2009 and July 2015, there were 133 mass shootings in the workplace and shootings account for 78 % of all workplace homicides. Violence in the workplace must be a top concern for employers, as no organization is immune from workplace violence and no organization can completely prevent it. (Source)

  • A robust and effective Insider Threat Program will train Security Professionals, Supervisors, Managers and Employees to identify "Behavioral Indicators" that are warning signs for workplace violence, including employees who do not accept criticism and express anger and blame others for their own poor performance; unexplained increase in absenteeism; increased and severe mood swings and noticeably unstable or emotional responses; frequent loss of temper; personality conflicts with co-workers; increasing dialog about problems at home, including marital, family or financial struggles; increase in unsolicited comments about violence, firearms and violent crimes; increased use of alcohol or illegal drugs; exhibiting signs of depression and withdrawal; and experiencing a traumatic event.

  • Can your company take the chance that one of your "Trusted Employees" might commit workplace violence? Jury Awards Over $1 Million In Negligent Hiring Lawsuit Involving Workplace Violence

Insider Threat Reports And Surveys


GAO Report On Insider Threat From Federal Workers - February 14, 2017
The GAO released a report about the the Cyber Insider Threat titled; CYBERSECURITY - Actions Needed To Strengthen U.S. Capabilities

The report points a finger at "Insider Threats" from federal workers on the government's vast cyber and computer system, joining "foreign nations" as a danger to sensitive and classified information and even personal info.

The GAO also declared frustration with the Obama administration in its new report, over its failure to implement 1,000 security fixes needed to close the door to hackers, inside and out. In testimony to Rep. Barbara Comstock's subcommittee in February 2017, Gregory Wilshusen, director of information security issues for GAO, hit the government for failing to act on 1,000 of 2,500 cybersecurity recommendations it has made.

The GAO report, requested by Rep. Barbara Comstock, the northern Virginia Republican who represents thousands of federal workers, is blunt in its assessment of the threats to cybersecurity.

"Federal systems and networks are also often interconnected with other internal and external systems and networks including the Internet, thereby increasing the number of avenues of attack and expanding their attack surface," said the report.

"Risks to cyber assets can originate from unintentional and intentional threats. These include insider threats from disaffected or careless employees and business partners, escalating and emerging threats from around the globe, the steady advances in the sophistication of attack technology, and the emergence of new and more destructive attacks," it added, pointing a finger to federal insiders.




Increasing Concern About Insider Threats At US Airports - House Homeland Security Committee Report - February 6, 2017
The House Homeland Security Committee Majority Staff has issued a report entitled ‘America’s Airports: The Threat From Within’ that examines employee screening at the approximately 450 airports in the U.S. under federal control and found that “much more needs to be done to improve the state of access controls and mitigate the insider threat facing America’s aviation sector.”

According to the 21-page report: Approximately 900,000 people work at these airports, and many are able to bypass traditional screening requirements that travelers visiting the airports must endure. While the overwhelming majority of these airport workers take the inherent responsibility seriously, there are increasing concerns that insider threats to aviation security are on the rise.

The report – the result of an investigation conducted by Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee – continued: The Subcommittee has worked closely with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the aviation stakeholder community to examine how we can work together to improve access controls and employee screening at our nation’s airports.

“The recommendations outlined in this report, along with the requirements of the Aviation Employee Screening and Security Enhancement Act of 2017, which I introduced today, will serve as a roadmap for TSA, airports, and air carriers to close security vulnerabilities at our nation’s airports,” Subcommittee Chairman John Katko (R-NY) stated in a press release about the report.

The Subcommittee “found that a majority of airports do not have full employee screening at secure access points” and that these airports “are unable to demonstrate the security effectiveness of their existing employee screening efforts, which consist largely of randomized screening by TSA officers or airport law enforcement personnel,” according to the press release.

The report made nine recommendations that include examining the costs and feasibility of expanded employee screening, educating aviation workers on their role in mitigating insider threats, targeting the use of employee screening to be more strategic, and implementing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) RapBack Service for all credentialed aviation worker populations.

Recent examples of insider threats discussed in the report include an attempt to detonate a bomb at an airport, gun and drug smuggling, and employees who became involved in terrorist activities overseas. The complete “America’s Airports: The Threat From Within” report is available online.



Association Of Computer Fraud Examiners Fraud Report - 2016

  • The total loss caused by the cases in our study exceeded $6.3 billion, with an average loss per case of $2.7 million.

  • Fraud perpetrators tended to display behavioral warning signs when they were engaged in their crimes. The most common red flags were living beyond means, financial difficulties, unusually close association with a vendor or customer, excessive control issues, a general “wheeler-dealer” attitude involving unscrupulous behavior, and recent divorce or family problems. At least one of these red flags was exhibited during the fraud in 78.9% of cases.

  • The most prominent organizational weakness that contributed to the frauds in our study was a lack of internal controls, which was cited in 29.3% of cases, followed by an override of existing internal controls, which contributed to just over 20% of cases.

  • The more individuals involved in an occupational fraud scheme, the higher losses tended to be. The median loss caused by a single perpetrator was $85,000. When two people conspired, the median loss was $150,000; three conspirators caused $220,000 in losses; four caused $294,000; and for schemes with five or more perpetrators, the median loss was $633,000.

  • More occupational frauds originated in the accounting department (16.6%) than in any other business unit. Of the frauds we analyzed, more than three-fourths were committed by individuals working in seven key departments: accounting, operations, sales, executive/upper management, customer service, purchasing, and finance.

  • In cases detected by tip at organizations with formal fraud reporting mechanisms, telephone hotlines were the most commonly used method (39.5%). However, tips submitted via email (34.1%) and web-based or online form (23.5%) combined to make reporting more common through the Internet than by telephone. Summary  Full Report

Healthcare Data Breaches Report - January 19, 2017

  • Data breaches in the U.S. healthcare field cost $6.2 Billion dollars each year.

  • The average cost of a single data breach across all industries is $4 Million dollars, according to a 2016 study from IBM and Ponemon Institute.

  • Approximately 90% of hospitals have reported a breach in the past two years, and most breaches are due to employee error.

  • The average HIPAA settlement fine is approximately $1.1 Million dollars.

  • Data Breach notification costs $560,000 on average.

  • Costs affiliated with lawsuits average $880,000.00.

  • Post data breach cleanup costs average $440,000.00

  • Healthcare organizations average $500,000.00 in lost brand value after a data breach, with some estimates reaching $50 Million dollars as an average amount in lost brand value.

  • Source

Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (2016) - Humans Remain The Weakest Link

  • According to the report authors, cybercriminals are continuing to exploit human nature as they rely on familiar attack patterns such as phishing. However, 'Miscellaneous errors' by end users of an organization took the top spot for security  incidents in this year's report.

  • “These can include improper disposal of company information, misconfiguration of IT systems, and lost and stolen assets such as laptops and smartphones,” Verizon said. The report found that 26% of these errors involved people  mistakenly sending sensitive information to the wrong person. "You might say our findings boil down to one common theme -- the human element," said Bryan Sartin, executive director of global security services, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "Despite advances in information security research and cyber detection solutions and tools, we continue to see many of the same errors we've known about for more than a decade now".

  • Contrary to what some people think, it’s rarely system administrators or developers with elevated privileges that fall victim. End users account for a third of insider misuse. Attacks are typically motivated by money: 34% of breaches involving misuse were motivated by financial gain—although a quarter (25%) can be linked with espionage, such as the theft of intellectual property.

  • Only a small percentage (14%) are in leadership roles (executive or other management), or in roles with elevated access privilege jobs such as system administrators or developers (14%). The moral of the story is to worry less about job titles and more about the level of access that every Joe or Jane has (and your ability to monitor them). 

  • Source


Corporations More Concerned With Disgruntled Employee Than Hackers?

(Fox News Video-2015)



US Defense Contract Management Agency - Malicious Or Accidental Insider Threats Have Caused More Problems In DoD - 2015 (Source)
According to the US Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)’s director of operations, the Department of Defense has positioned itself quite strongly against external cyber threats, but malicious or accidental insider threats have caused more problems. This was largely because people within agencies largely “do what they want” and see security as a form of interference, he said. Additionally, some of the younger employees have “skills to successfully work around security protocols.”


Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (2015) - 90 % Of All Cyber Security Incidents Involve People
Although many people think cybersecurity simply involves preventing malicious outsiders from accessing corporate networks, the 2015 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) confirms that the “common denominator across … nearly 90 percent of all cyber security incidents is people…whether it’s goofing up, getting infected, behaving badly, or losing stuff….”. Over the past 11 years, 96% of all security incidents fell into 9 patterns. The top 4 patterns involve human error or misuse. (Source)


Experian Report: Insiders Still Top Breach Threat - 2015
Michael Bruemmer of Experian Data Breach Resolution states; "Whether it's a true malicious insider, or just employee negligence, 80 percent of the breaches we've worked so far in 2015 have been [caused by] employees ... and I don't think that's going to change in the healthcare field and other fields."  (Source)


Ponemon Institute Reports Employee Negligence Leading Cause of Insider Threats - Could Cost A Company Up To $1.5 million - 2015
Employee negligence, which may be caused by multitasking and working long hours, can result in insider threats and cost companies millions of dollars each year. It can cost a U.S. company as much as $1.5 million and Germany companies €1.6 million in time wasted responding to security incidents caused by human error, according to a new survey of IT and IT security practitioners in the U.S. and Germany. The survey, commissioned by Raytheon / Websense and independently conducted by the information security industry leader Ponemon Institute, also revealed that 70 percent of U.S. survey respondents and 64 percent of German respondents report that more security incidents are caused by unintentional mistakes than intentional and/or malicious acts. (Source)



Mandiant Cybersecurity Firm Reports 100% Of Most Recent Incidents Involved Some Form OF Insider Threat - 2015 (Source)



FBI / Department of Homeland Security

  • A recent (2014) FBI and Department of Homeland Security alert reported that employees with an ax to grind are increasingly using Internet cloud services and other computer tools to hack their current or former companies.

  • Companies victimized by current or former employees incur costs from $5,000 to $3 million.

  • According to the FBI our nation’s secrets are in jeopardy, the same secrets that make a company profitable. The FBI estimates billions of U.S. dollars are lost to foreign competitors every year. These foreign competitors deliberately target economic intelligence in advanced technologies and flourishing U.S. industries. External data breaches by cyber criminals get a lot of attention, but frequently insiders are recruited by foreign competitors to gather and steal a company’s data.


Insider Threats To Credit Unions (2015) (Source)
The Insider Threat Survey Of Credit Unions Found:

  • 83% of surveyed financial institutions admit their biggest concern is confidential information transferred to unauthorized recipients.

  • 52% say they are worried about sensitive data being transferred by use of removable media.

  • 77% of all credit unions surveyed said they do not believe or were unsure if they had complete protection regarding internal data threats.

  • 62% stated they already have security controls in place.


Insider Threats To Healthcare (2015) (Source)
The 2015 Vormetric Insider Threat Report Found:

  • 92% of 102 U.S.-based healthcare IT decision makers surveyed said their organizations are either "somewhat" or more vulnerable to insider threats.

  • 49% felt "very" or "extremely" vulnerable to insider threats.

  • 48% of healthcare organizations experienced a data breach or failed a compliance audit in the past year.

  • 63% of healthcare IT decision makers said their organizations are planning to increase spending to offset data threats.


SANS / Spectorsoft Survey (2014, 2015) (Source)
The SANS 2015 Survey On Insider Threats Found;

  • 74% of the 772 IT security professionals surveyed said they're concerned about insider threats from negligent or malicious employees.

  • 32% said they have no ability to prevent an insider breach.

  • 28% said insider threat detection and prevention isn't a priority in their organizations.

  • 44% of respondents said they don't know how much they currently spend on solutions to mitigate insider threats.

  • 45% said they don't know how much they plan to spend on such solutions in the next 12 months.

  • 69%of respondents said they currently have an incident response plan in place, but more than half of those respondents said that plan has no special provisions for insider threats.

  • 52% of survey respondents said they didn't know what their losses might amount to in the case of an insider breach.


The 2015 SolarWinds Survey Investigates Insider Threats to Federal Cybersecurity (Source)

  • More than half (53%) of federal IT Pros identified careless and untrained insiders as the greatest source of IT security threats at their agencies, up from 42 percent last year.

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe malicious insider threats to be as damaging as or more damaging than malicious external threats, such as terrorist attacks or hacks by foreign governments.

  • Further, 57 percent believe breaches caused by accidental or careless insiders to be as damaging as or more damaging than those caused by malicious insiders.

  • Nearly half of respondents said government data is most at risk of breach from employees' or contractors' desktops or laptops. Top causes of accidental insider breaches include phishing attacks (49%), data copied to insecure devices (44%), accidental deletion or modification of critical data (41%) and use of prohibited personal devices (37%).


The 2015 Vormetric Insider Threat Report Found: (Source) (Video)

  • 93% of U.S. respondents said their organizations were somewhat or more vulnerable to insider threats.

  • 59% of U.S. respondents believe privileged users pose the biggest threat to their organization.

  • Preventing a data breach is the highest or second highest priority for IT security spending for 54% of respondents’ organizations.

  • 46% of U.S. respondents believe cloud environments are at the greatest risk for loss of sensitive data in their organization, yet 47% believe databases have the greatest amount of sensitive data at risk.

  • 44% of U.S. respondents say their organization had experienced a data breach or failed a compliance audit in the last year.

  • 34% of U.S. respondents say their organizations are protecting sensitive data because of a breach at a partner or a competitor.


The 2014 U.S. State Of Cyber Crime Survey Found: (Source)

  • The incidents that typically fly under the media radar are insider events.

  • 28% of respondents pointed the finger at insiders, which includes trusted parties such as current and former employees, service providers, and contractors.

  • 32% say insider crimes are more costly or damaging than incidents perpetrated by outsiders. The larger the business, the more likely it is to consider insiders a threat; larger businesses also are more likely to recognize that insider incidents can be more costly and damaging.

  • Only 49% of all respondents have a plan for responding to insider threats.


The 2014 Occupational Fraud And Abuse Report By The Association Of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Found; (Source)

  • Companies lose 5 percent of revenue each year to fraud, which amounts to nearly $3.7 trillion globally.

  • The report pegged the median loss from fraud at $145,000. More than 1 in 5 of the almost 1,500 cases analyzed in more than 100 countries had employees walking away with at least $1 million.


GAO Report On Personnel Security Clearances

  • A 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reviewed the eligibility of individuals accessing classified information.

  • Access to classified information was revoked in 2009-2013 for more than 18,500 military and civilian employees and contractors working for the Department of Defense (DoD), according to an audit. (16,000 Military-Civilian Employees And For 2,500 contractors).

  • The report examined the most common reasons for revoking clearances by the DoD for fiscal year 2013. The top causes for civilian and military personnel were criminal  conduct, involvement with drugs and personal conduct. Top reasons for contractors were financial considerations and personal and criminal conduct.

  • The report also examined revocations by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), although only for fiscal year 2013. About 125,000 DHS civilian and military employees were eligible to access classified information as of March 2014. DHS revoked eligibility for 113 personnel during fiscal year 2013 the report said.


Organizations Lack Training And Budget To Mitigate Insider Threats

  • A 2014 Insider Threat Survey conducted by Spectorsoft of 355 IT and security professionals revealed the following;

    • 61% stated they didn’t have the ability to deter an insider threat.

    • 59% stated they couldn’t detect an insider threat.

    • 60% of stated that they weren't prepared to respond to insider attacks.

    • 35% stated that they had already experienced an insider attack, with 41% of those attacks involving financial fraud, 49% of them involving a data leak, 16% involving intellectual property theft.


Insider Threat Reports

A Worst Practices Guide To Insider Threats - Lessons From Past Mistakes

GAO Report: Insider Threats In The DoD - June 2015

DoD Insider Threat Mitigation Report - 2000

PERSEREC: Espionage By Americans From 1947-2007

PERSEREC: Espionage Case Summaries From 1975-2008




Insider Threat Risk Mitigation Requires Senior Management Support

  • Senior Management must address the questions below if they are serious about mitigating the insider threat and protecting an organization assets.

  • Has your organization given serious consideration into what employees are really doing with the organization’s most critical information?

  • Does your organization have visibility into its employees actions on your information systems, databases and networks that store intellectual property, proprietary information and sensitive information?

  • Can your company afford to loose its critical market share and let this information get into the hands of your competitors?

  • Could the loss of this information cause your company bad publicity, damage to your company's reputation and stock prices, cause your company to face legal action, or put your company out of business?

  • How many companies could afford a penalty like AT&T suffered because of an insider threat incident? The FCC penalty clearly sent a message, secure your data or be fined.


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