Understanding Small Business Insider Threats

When business owners and administrators begin to focus on cybersecurity, that focus is often directed at external threats. Phishing, social engineering and direct attacks on infrastructure are typically the first to be addressed. However, not all threats originate from outside your organization. Insider threats are a real security risk and there are many types that you should be aware of if you want to ensure your business is protected.

Insider threats could be anything from careless or undereducated employees who need cybersecurity training to a vendor that was provided too much access to your systems or data. Before you can successfully mitigate the risks associated with insider threats you must first understand the different types of insiders that can put your business in jeopardy.


Types of Insider Threats

Any entity with access to your data or infrastructure could become an insider threat. The types of threats are defined by motivation, intent, and relationship to your organization:


Negligent Insider-

These insiders do not intend to put the organization at risk but do so with their careless actions. These insiders often lack the training and knowhow to avoid risky situations. Negligent insiders tend to fall prey to phishing attacks, keep written passwords under their keyboards, leave sensitive files open on their computers and even mindlessly delete critical business data. This type of insider is the most common type, and their actions are typically the costliest to your business.


Malicious Insider –

This insider can be broken down into two categories based on their motivation. The vengeful malicious insider is often a disgruntled employee attempting to take out their frustrations on their employer. These insiders will often sabotage data either by poisoning files with incorrect information or simply deleting data.

The financially motived malicious insider uses their position and access to data as a way to supplement their income. These insiders are known to redirect small amounts of funds to personal accounts or steal data to be sold to competitors or cybercriminals. These insiders can be difficult to notice due to their intimate knowledge of operating procedures as well as security measures.

Collusive Insider –

This insider works alongside the criminals that are targeting your business. Cybercriminals have begun to actively seek out and recruit employees to become their attack vector into a target organization. These insiders can be motivated by several factors, most commonly financial gain. While these insiders are not directly accessing or attacking your data, their collusion is the “foot in the door” the cybercriminals need to launch their attack.

Third Party Insider –

When you provide access to an outside contractor or vendor, you are creating a risk of a third-party insider. The threat of a third-party insider is rarely with the individual but with the device they are using to connect to your systems. If the computer or smart device being used by the third party is not secure, cybercriminals now have a way into your organization.


All cyberthreats come with their own unique risks and challenges. Insider threats can be particularly worrisome as they are difficult to recognize before the damage is done. In order to protect your business from these threats it is critical that you consider:

  • Providing Cybersecurity Awareness Training for all employees

  • Implementing a robust backup and data recovery solution

  • Protecting your organization with a modern Endpoint Detection & Response solution


Insider threats, among other cyberthreats, can be devastating to a small business. The Purple Guys can help you build a cybersecurity plan and improve your overall security posture. If you are ready to prevent insider threats, mitigate data loss and minimize downtime, reach out to us today by clicking here.




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