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Commentary

Watch your Back -- And Your Back-Office: Insider Threats More Than Double

Insider threats increased by more than 100 percent over the past year, according to a new report. The percentage of identity breaches attributed to insider crime or error far exceeds those caused by external hackers.
Insider threats increased by more than 100 percent over the past year, according to a new report. The percentage of identity breaches attributed to insider crime or error far exceeds those caused by external hackers.Released by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), in late June, the San Diego-based nonprofit's "Breach Meter" for 2008 Q2 shows a threat environment comprised of those external hackers -- and an array of internal threats, errors, abuses, ignorances and just plain boneheaded sloppiness.

ITRC's study put outright insider theft at 15.8 percent of the quarter's data breaches -- up from just 6.0 percent a year ago.

There's some good news: data breaches caused by -- rather than committed by -- insiders either through compromising or losing data on mobile devices (laptops, thumb drives, etc.) accounted for 20.2 percent of known breaches in the period, down from 27.8 percent last year.

Accidental reveals of confidential information -- the employee "Ooops!" or "bonehead mistake" factor -- was likewise down, 15.2 percent now as opposed to 20.2 percent a year ago. Second-party (contractors, for example) breaches also declined.

But it's that sharp increase in outright insider crime that's the scary number here. As small and midsize businesses cope with a tricky (to say the least! -- economy, increased demand on fewer resources (including digital resources) and so on, the temptation may be to concentrate defenses on the external threats that everyone faces rather than the internal threats that, thankfully, only some of us face.

You know the difference -- not least because small and midsize businesses have a better opportunity to know their teams than do bigbiz enterprise bureaucracies. Take advantage of that: your ability to know yourself and your people has never been more important.

And no matter how well you do know your team, it's well worth keeping an eye out inside the firewall as well as an eye on what lurks beyond it.

The bMighty ANTenna take on the story is here.