Next named exclusive Trail Blazer in NEW 2024 Radicati DLP Market Quadrant Report Read the Report
Updated: Dec 8, 2023   |   Tyler Palmer

Why your business needs an insider risk management policy and how to develop one

Go back

Organizations of all sizes must protect themselves and their IT environments from insider risks. The substantial security and compliance risks posed by deliberate and unintentional insider threats must be taken seriously and addressed effectively. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of having an insider risk management policy and how to develop a policy that helps protect your organization from insider risks.

Colleagues discussing information on a laptop
Image by VideoFlow via Shutterstock

Wh‎at is an insider risk management policy?

An insider risk management policy is a method of defining the ways an organization manages insider risk. It's an essential component of your insider risk management program.

Insider risk policies need to address insider risk from a variety of perspectives. Taken together, the components of an insider risk management policy help protect a company from insider threats.

The following are three main components of an insider risk management policy.

  • Human intelligence - Deliberate insider threats may be foreshadowed by strange or aberrant behavior by an employee or contractor. The risk management policy should encourage employees who observe suspicious or abnormal behavior to report it and provide a method for them to do so.
  • Technological solutions - Multiple technological solutions can be employed to help manage insider risk. Platforms that monitor and perform analytics on user activity can help identify potential risks and issue alerts when abnormal behavior is identified. Endpoint monitoring is another tool that can help limit the risks of insider threats.
  • Prevention - The policy should focus on taking appropriate action to prevent insider risks instead of concentrating on responding to their effects. Prevention is enhanced through the use of security awareness training and implementing data loss prevention (DLP) software to proactively prevent policy violations.

Employee or contractor typing on a laptop
Image by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Wh‎y your business needs an insider risk management policy

Your business needs an insider risk management policy because of the dangerous potential of insider threats. Current and former employees and contractors have extensive knowledge regarding the IT environment. 

They also may have privileged access to valuable data and mission-critical systems. These factors open the door to deliberate or accidental actions that put a company’s intellectual property at risk and can impact its ability to operate its business efficiently.

Malicious insiders may intentionally steal information or initiate security incidents to sabotage the company or cause reputational damage. These individuals may be working alone or be part of an organized group intent on performing espionage or planting malware. 

The knowledge they have about the IT environment and their authorized access to sensitive data makes a malicious insider more dangerous than an external threat actor.

Trustworthy employees may inadvertently cause data leaks through carelessness or by subverting security in an attempt to increase efficiency. They may accidentally compromise system performance, making it impossible to meet customer expectations, or they may fall victim to a social engineering attack and inadvertently share sensitive data with attackers or introduce malware into the IT environment.

The need for insiders to handle sensitive information to perform their jobs presents a risk if mistakes are made in protecting this valuable data. According to the Ponemon Institute's 2022 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report, more than half (56%) of insider threat incidents result from carelessness or mistakes.

An insider risk management policy should address both types of insider threats.

Ho‎w to develop an effective insider risk management policy

Developing an effective insider risk management policy requires a methodical approach that addresses all aspects of the potential risks to the business. Including the following aspects is considered best practice when developing and implementing an insider risk policy.

  • Planning is an essential first step and should include stakeholders from across the organization. The policy should be supported by upper management.
  • An insider risk threat assessment is necessary to identify the assets that need to be protected and the threats that exist to those resources.
  • Policy creation consists of developing security and data handling procedures that reflect the information obtained through the risk assessment. Your policy should make the need for stringent data policies and security-conscious practices clear while also communicating trust in your employees.
  • User training must be provided to everyone in the organization so they understand their role in protecting enterprise resources.
  • Implement technology, such as an insider risk management solution, that effectively addresses the business risks of insiders by automating enforcement of data handling policies and promoting user training.

Man in gray sweater using a computer in an office with other employees working in the background
Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

In‎corporating a DLP platform into your insider risk management policy

Implementing a data loss prevention (DLP) platform can be an important component of a comprehensive insider risk management policy. A DLP solution helps to prevent data theft and other incidents by enforcing a company’s data handling policy. 

This enforcement restricts both deliberate and unwitting insiders from mishandling enterprise data and ensures that only authorized personnel can access restricted and highly sensitive data.

The Reveal platform by Next is a modern and advanced DLP platform that addresses the need to protect data from all types of internal risks, eliminating both malicious and unintentional mishandling of sensitive data resources. 

The tool identifies and categorizes data as it is ingested into the environment so it can be effectively protected. Reveal also offers user training at the point of risk to increase the security consciousness of the organization and help prevent insider risks from occurring.

Talk to the experts at Next and learn how Reveal can be an integral part of your insider risk management policy. Want to see it for yourself? Schedule a free demo and see Reveal in action.

Two employees working on a laptop and a computer at a desk
Photo by Desola Lanre-Ologun on Unsplash

Fr‎equently asked questions

How can employees help reduce insider risks?

Employees can help to reduce insider risks in several ways. Through awareness training and adherence to the company’s data handling policy, employees can ensure that data assets are not put at risk. Employees are also in a position in which they can observe and report on colleagues who may be acting strangely or purposely risking enterprise resources.

Why is security awareness training an essential part of an insider risk management policy?

Security awareness training is essential for an effective insider risk management policy because it provides the organization with the knowledge required to protect business resources. Training should include instruction on how the data handling policy impacts a specific employee and their role in the company. It should also address identifying insider threat indicators that can be valuable in pre-empting risky activities.

Why are unwitting insiders especially dangerous to an organization?

Unwitting insiders are dangerous to an organization because of the unpredictable and accidental nature of the risks they present. A simple mistake can be responsible for a major data breach that exposes sensitive and regulated information. 

This type of risk can never be totally eliminated through training and education. Technical solutions such as a data loss prevention tool reduce the chances of unwitting insider risks.


See how Next protects your employees and prevents data loss