Data security professionals categorize threats as internal or external, with the former category breaking down further into accidental internal threats and deliberately malicious internal threats. Errors stem from how people think, and how they think is influenced by personal and situational factors. Data security professionals address both factors, yet room for improvement exists.
Fast vs. Slow: Thinking Impacts Responses
Our brains allow us to choose how to think about a situation based upon its various features. Novel concepts, intriguing topics, or the luxury of time encourage people to think more carefully. In turn, this leads to fewer errors in action. On the other hand, familiarity with concepts, personal or work stressors, and lack of time might force people to take mental shortcuts that allow for quick responses. Such mental shortcuts present opportunities for errors in daily and infrequent tasks alike.
Pinpointing Opportunities for Errors: Tasks and Tools
Errors ultimately result from a combination of people and situations, meaning data security professionals must act on multiple fronts. Employees receive education about social engineering tactics and security policies procedures, however complexity in a security policy can leave unaddressed opportunities for mistakes that pose threats. Complex procedures may tempt savvier individuals to reduce complexity by skipping steps or leaving out information, while less experienced users may forget steps or perform them incorrectly. Therefore, it’s critical for organizations to evaluate whether their required security procedures do more to encourage risky behavior than prevent it.
Procedures are not the only potential pitfalls for ensuring data security, though. Tools for interacting with data, even those meant to help secure it, can introduce complexity. If people apply tools to tasks they do not fit, the simple act of using the tool endangers the data. In such cases, employees may avoid using the tool and opt for one that is simpler, but without any guarantee of security. Similar outcomes result when the tool is used as intended, but is designed in a way that is difficult to learn and use. Once again, it is incumbent upon security professionals to choose tools designed for the tasks they want performed, as well as ensuring the tools selected have reasonable learning curves and excellent help resources.
Errors of the Privileged User: Lapses
Depending on roles, people within organizations may require elevated access levels to sensitive data. Such privileged IDs present another point of weakness in an organization’s data security, especially if such credentials are improperly managed. Even the most diligent of employees are prone to occasional lapses when performing tasks, and this is where the opportunity to cause lasting damage arises. A prime example of this is when organizations trust privileged users to manage their use of these credentials on their own.
Imagine a scenario where a privileged user forgets to sign out, and then proceeds to make changes on the mainframe that seriously impact sensitive data. When talking about accidental internal threats, incidents like the one described above may not be deliberate. The privileged user could have been interrupted by a colleague, or distracted by another task before signing out. Or, the task they were working on took so long to complete that they simply forgot they were working under an ID with an elevated privilege state. Whatever the reason for the lapse, it reveals another point data security professionals must proactively plan to address.
Fortunately, CA offers an easy way to help organizations better manage privileged IDs with CA Trusted Access Manager for Z. This solution, which can be fully integrated with CA ACF2 and CA Top Secret, removes the weight of managing privileged IDs from their assigned users in two ways. First, CA Trusted Access Manager for Z elevates existing user IDs to eliminate the need for credential sharing, which greatly reduces the risk of insider threats. And second, organizations can assign elevated privilege states for a specific period so once a user completes a task requiring elevated access levels, the elevated access is revoked from their ID.
CA Trusted Access Manager for Z is the intuitive solution for data security professionals that helps minimize the risk of accidental internal threats. Learn more about how you can improve your risk posture through privileged access management at ca.com/TAM.