by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
computer threats, hacking, insiders

Insiders No Longer The Biggest Threat To Computer Networks

from the but-why? dept

For years, we've been told that the biggest threat to various companies' computer networks doesn't come from outside hackers, but from internal (often disgruntled) employees. However, a new study disputes that, saying that less than one in five security breaches were due to insiders. Business partners are nearly twice as likely to be the cause of an attack, and then outside hack attacks are the largest threat. Of course, what isn't explained is whether or not the earlier data was just wrong -- or if something has changed over the last few years (more outside hacking, better controls on employees, etc.). That would probably be a lot more interesting and useful than just knowing the percentages.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    colony, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 1:44am

    i think.....

    network admin's all got a pay rise this year

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Office Sheep, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 3:56am

    I think.....

    every network admin is just...Happy. Finally, the last thing I never want to come across with is a network admin who hasn't had his/her Starbucks and is left behind in the corporate pay raise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    SomeGuy, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 4:44am

    I didn't read the article, but "biggest threat" isn't just a question of numbers, but also of impact. Insiders, who are expressly given access to the network and certain sets of data, have the potential to do a lot more damage than most outside attackers. I'd be skeptical of any study that makes the claim that because most attacks come from the outside that means it's the biggest threat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:05am

    I disagree with this study. Wanna know how much time and resources we spend cleaning up from an outside attack? None, thats how much. Never found one that got past security. Doesn't mean we don't spend time implementing and monitoring security though, better safe than sorry. Now, wanna know how much time we spend cleaning up employee stupidity that adversely effects the network? A crapload, thats what. From the idiot that opens up an attachment in outlook that infects his computer with a spammy virus, the person who always hits "accept" in IE when we tell them to accept nothing, the moron who sets up an FTP server on his work computer to send files to his own computer(when there is already a secure way of doing it), and god knows what else. We spend more time and energy cleaning up on "internal" issues, than anything else. Sure, those first two could be considered an "outside attack", but if the person at the keyboard didn't have a problem with malfunctioning neurons.. there would never be a problem in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Mitch, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:27am

    Sounds like your security is not up to par Anonymous Coward. Would someone setting up an FTP server not set off any red flags on your network? Are your attachements not screened by anti-virus or an external spam filter? You can't just tell people not to do something, as an admin its your job (and mine) to lock it down. Sounds like the biggest threat to your network is the laziness of its administrators. Malfunctioning neurons? After you develop some network admin skills you should work on your people skill as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    pegr, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    Not quite right (perhaps)

    Often, internal breaches are not reported.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    SomeGuy, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:32am


    Those are all "outside" threats, because none of them originate from the inside -- unless the 'threat' you see from the FTP is that he's leaking data onto the web, but I doubt that. An inside attack is when an authorized user attacks your network. That's not the case in any of your scenarios, you're just complaining that users are still not internet-savvy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Overcast, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    True - it depends on how you define 'attack' - do you mean an intentional malicious attempt to gain access to a system or data that the person would not otherwise have or an 'attack' of 'ignorance'? :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jake, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:16am

    Interestingly, social engineering attacks seem to be down as well; either security procedures are getting more effective or crackers are trying to be too clever for their own good these days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    DanO, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Re: SomeGuy

    You should have read the article.

    The article agrees with you.

    Using a metric of records accessed, it says the median for outside attacks was 30,000 records as opposed to 375,000 for internal attacks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Jason (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Not the point!!

    The whole "biggest threat inside" concept has nothing to do with a comparison of the hostile activity of outsider vs insider. The point is the vulnerability.

    Nothing here touches on how many of those outside attacks were made possible by the un-measurable actions of insiders whether deliberately or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Jazza, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 4:12am

    Hu Cares?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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