Workforce Risk: Time to Implement a Push Model
Government agencies are very focused on how to detect insider threats – before problems occur. Nextgov, a federal technology and cybersecurity website, attracted a large audience for its Aug. 7th panel, “Combating the Threat from Within.” Intelligence officials and security experts discussed the unique challenges that government agencies face. The event’s large turnout speaks to the need for new approaches to this evolving problem.
Top 3 Event Takeaways
The panelists made many great points, but here are a few that I found especially relevant:
Push Model Addresses Current and Future Risk
Government and industry should adopt a model where risk events and indicators are pushed to security and human resource professionals. This is more effective than waiting to pull information at the next scheduled interval.
As noted by keynote speaker Charles Phalen, Director at the National Background Investigations Bureau, “The pull model goes back to the 1950’s — and some elements would still be recognizable to my own father.”
Additionally, the push model includes user activity monitoring and the ability to identify potential insider threats through risk-based analysis, behavioral analytics, and trend patterns of unique financial, credit, criminal and employment data.
Managing Insider Threat Risks is a Team Sport
During his keynote, William Evanina, Director of National Counterintelligence and Security Center, spoke of the need for an accountable leader, as well as the need to engage your organization’s team, including human resources. Through regular outreach and training, employees and contractors can become part of an enterprise-wide effort to protect data, intellectual property or brand.
This theme was picked up by Kimberly O’Grady, an intelligence analyst with Lockheed Martin, who spoke of how their Chief Privacy Officer is embedded in their program. She also spoke about their pro-active outreach to internal audit teams. O’Grady said they surprised the teams by asking them to audit the program — and “do so often.”
Indirect Benefits to Employees
As programs start using more trended data, automated record checks and analytics, organizations can target individuals with employee assistance program (EAP). This works much like consumer-oriented organizations that use data and analytics to target customers with product offers. Likewise, government entities can use data to target employees with education and assistance programs.
For example, user activity monitoring may reveal an employee’s search history for mortgage loan options. Additionally, that data can be combined with trended financial data, which suggests financial hardship in 90 days. As a result, the organization can present an EAP offer of credit and financial counseling.
In conclusion, organizations have to be proactive. Waiting for something to happen or data to be pushed won’t solve today’s insider threat risk. Instead, leaders must engage a team, including human resources, information security professionals, and other employees. This approach will better protect an organization and our nation.
Finally, the push approach can also help organizations better understand their employees and pro-actively offer support to avoid risk. This last point is critical because engaged employees are more likely to support an insider threat risk program.
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