Internal Cyber Threats to Network Security

One of the biggest threats to network security is internal threats. As the Data Center increases in size, so does the risk. Yes, there are international hackers and nation states that want to use your system as their next botnet target, but chances are higher that you will face an internal threat. It could be a disgruntled worker, or a technical employee who is using Putty to bypass the corporate firewall so he can watch YouTube movies. But there are other threats that could be more dangerous. 

Many corporations have international branches. I have seen systems loaded with backdoors when a US employee has returned from being hooked up to a foreign branch. Also, corporate IT departments in the US are now using a large amount of foreign workers to save costs.

Often, these employees are not direct employees and are obtained through employee recruiting agencies, who are rewarded for filling positions. How well are the candidates checked out? Could they have nation-state interests? 

Also, there is always the threat of internal cyber terrorism. In the recent Ford Hood shootings, Major Nidal Hasan fired upon unarmed military personal killing 13 people and wounding 30 others in a personal Jihad. What if Hasan was an IT expert in the Army and not a medical officer? How much electronic damage could he have caused if he attacked internal systems? How many doors could he have opened to let external threats in? What secrets could he have let out? What if he worked for a power plant or water refinement plant in a large city? 

We have to be more vigilant in securing our systems from internal threats. Many warning signs in the Fort Hood shootings were ignored with devastating results. Suspicious patterns and behaviors need to be investigated. Hiring processes need to be checked and verified. It is our responsibility to secure our part of the digital battlefield. 


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