Corporate Investigation Case #2
Internal Cybersecurity Risks:

Navigating Insider Threats

An insider threat means a cybersecurity problem emerging from within a company. This risk typically arises when a present or past staff member, contractor, vendor, or collaborator with legitimate user credentials misuses their access to the damage of the organization’s networks, systems, and data. Insider threats can materialize either deliberately or inadvertently, but the outcome remains compromised confidentiality, availability, and/or integrity of the enterprise’s systems and data.

Given insiders’ authorized access to data and systems, differentiating between normal and detrimental activity becomes challenging for security specialists and tools.

Malicious insiders possess an upper hand over other malicious attackers due to their familiarity with enterprise operations, procedures, policies, and personnel. They possess a heightened understanding of system versions and inherent vulnerabilities. Consequently, addressing insider threats necessitates equal diligence as with external threats.

Types of Destructive Insider Threats

  1. “Turncloacks”: Collaborators and Lone Wolves

Termed as “turncloaks,” malicious insider threats center on espionage, fraud, intellectual property theft, and sabotage. These individuals deliberately exploit their privileged access to pilfer information or undermine systems for financial, personal, or malicious motivations. For instance, a discontented employee may sell confidential data to a competitor, or a former contractor might introduce crippling malware into the organization’s network.


Collaborators are authorized users collaborating with third parties to inflict intentional harm upon the organization. Third parties can include competitors, nation-states, organized criminal networks, or individuals. Collaborators’ actions may result in leaking confidential information or disrupting business operations.

Lone Wolves

Lone wolves function independently without external influence, often wielding privileged system access like database administrators.

  1. Negligent Insider Threats: Pawns and Goofs

Inadvertent insider security threats stem from human errors, poor judgment, unintentional facilitation, convenience, phishing, malware, or stolen credentials. Those involved unknowingly expose enterprise systems to external attacks.


Pawns are authorized users manipulated into unintentional malicious acts, often via techniques like spear phishing. Such acts could entail downloading malware or revealing confidential data to impostors.


Goofs intentionally engage in potentially harmful actions without malicious intent. They exhibit arrogance, ignorance, or incompetence, ignoring security policies. An example is storing confidential customer data on a personal device despite knowing it’s against organizational rules.

  1. Infiltrators

An infiltrator, or mole, is an outsider who gains insider access to an organization’s systems by posing as an authorized entity like a vendor, partner, contractor, or employee.

Detecting an Insider Threat

While most threat intelligence tools focus on analyzing network, computer, and application data, scant attention is paid to authorized individuals who could misuse their privileged access. To secure against insider threats, monitoring abnormal behavioral and digital activities is imperative.

Behavioral Indicators

Look out for various indicators of an insider threat, such as:

  • Dissatisfied or disgruntled employees, contractors, vendors, or partners.
  • Attempts to bypass security measures.
  • Working during off-hours consistently.
  • Exhibiting resentment towards colleagues.
  • Regularly violating organizational policies.
  • Contemplating resignation or discussing new opportunities.

Digital Indicators encompass:

  • Signing into enterprise systems at unusual times.
  • Unusual spikes in network traffic, potentially indicating data copying.
  • Unauthorized access to resources.
  • Accessing irrelevant data for their role.
  • Frequent requests for access to unrelated system resources.
  • Usage of unauthorized devices like USB drives.
  • Deliberate searches for sensitive information or emailing it externally.

Hiring private investigators can make sense when it comes to indicating and revealing different types of destructive insider threats within an organization. Collaborating with cybersecurity experts, IT teams, and internal security personnel can create a well-rounded approach to mitigating insider threats and enhancing overall organizational security.

Private investigators bring specialized skills, expertise, and resources that can enhance the detection and mitigation of insider threats.

Here’s why hiring private investigators can be beneficial:

  1. Unbiased Investigation: Private investigators conduct impartial and objective investigations, ensuring that all potential threats are thoroughly examined without bias.
  2. Specialized Expertise: Private investigators have experience in conducting in-depth investigations, including analyzing digital footprints, monitoring communication channels, and identifying patterns of suspicious behavior.
  3. Advanced Tools and Techniques: Private investigators have access to advanced tools and techniques for monitoring and tracking insider activities, including data analysis, digital forensics, and surveillance.
  4. Anonymity and Discretion: Employees may be more likely to share concerns with external investigators due to confidentiality concerns within the organization, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of potential threats.
  5. Rapid Response: Private investigators can respond quickly to insider threat incidents, helping to identify and address the issue promptly before it escalates.
  6. Comprehensive Investigation: Private investigators can delve deeper into the motives and intentions of malicious insiders, uncovering hidden connections and potential collaborators.
  7. Legal Compliance: Private investigators are well-versed in legal and ethical considerations, ensuring that the investigation process adheres to relevant laws and regulations.
  8. Expert Analysis: Private investigators can provide expert analysis and recommendations based on their findings, assisting organizations in developing effective strategies to mitigate insider threats.
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