Monday, 4 February 2013

Myth #9: We trust our staff

We are secure because we trust our staff.  We have a solid awareness programme, and after all, security is only a problem on the Internet.  If only it were true.

We might imagine that the most common internal attackers are the IT staff as they have full and unrestricted access to all of our systems.  As Microsoft wisely said in their 10 Immutable Laws of Security, a computer is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy.

But system administrators aren’t the only insiders with means, motive and opportunity.

The Verizon 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report looked at the type of role held by internal attackers.  The results are eye opening.  While 6% of breaches were due to system administrators, 12% were by regular employees, 15% by managers and even 3% by executive management!

The truth is that trust must be earned, never expected.  All insiders have means and opportunity, all they need is motive.

To lower the risk, wise businesses perform background checks for new employees moving into sensitive positions, apply appropriate segregation of duties to lower the potential for attack, and then implement good detective controls to catch it if and when it happens.

If you trust but verify, then this myth is plausible.

Phil Kernick Chief Technology Officer