Former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Edward Snowden said recently he is willing to stand trial in the US for revealing classified information about NSA surveillance activities. Ever since he released the first classified documents in June 2013, shock waves have continued to reverberate throughout the federal IT sector. In the wake of Snowden’s insider breach, many organizations suddenly awoke to the notion that insiders — both employees and contractors — did not always have the best intentions.
Trusted insiders, especially those with elevated privileges, are often given access to tremendous amounts of sensitive information, regardless of whether they actually need that information to perform their jobs. A 2014 Ponemon/Raytheon study on insider threats reported 73 percent of privileged users believed they were entitled to access all the information they had the ability to view, and that 65 percent of them accessed sensitive or confidential data out of curiosity.
Elevated access privileges also often include the ability to make changes to systems and network configurations. The Ponemon/Raytheon survey pointed out that 54 percent of the organizations who responded regularly assign privileges to individuals that go beyond their role or responsibility. These excess access rights present a clear and present danger.
Read the complete report in the April/May 2015 issue of Homeland Security Today.