SIS Blog

How to Protect Your Government Agency From Insider Threats

by | Feb 21, 2024

Do you have a strategy for dealing with insider threats inside your government agency?

Insider threats pose significant risks to organizations because they can compromise highly sensitive data, systems, and operations. And because of the nature of the work government agencies do, the repercussions of insider threats can be especially devastating, resulting in everything from stolen government secrets to compromised infrastructure or leaked staff or citizen data.

That’s why protecting yourself from insider threats should be an important part of your digital and physical security strategy. But to begin to formulate a strong strategy to address insider threats, you should understand where they tend to originate and how they can leave you vulnerable. For this, current research into the issue can put things in perspective.

According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2022 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report, which looked primarily at digital threats, insider threats can include everything from criminal or malicious behavior to pure carelessness on the part of your employees, staff, or contractors. 

However, despite both criminal behavior and credential theft posing a real risk to your operations, Ponemon confirms that careless or negligent employees are, in fact, your #1 risk factor. According to their research, 56% of incidents organizations experienced were the result of pure negligence, which could include everything from straying from your security policies to not securing devices or forgetting to make vital patches and upgrades.

Furthermore, while reconciling these threats costs organizations millions of dollars each year, or approximately $480,000+ per incident, they also cost substantial resources and time.  For example, Ponemon discovered that it takes an average of 85 days to contain a threat incident, with only 12% of threats resolved within a 30-day period. This only makes it more challenging to manage budget constraints.

Their research also shared that unmanaged and vulnerable Internet of Things devices proved to be the greatest area of concern when it came to data loss. At the same time, some of the best technologies for stopping insider threats included behavior-based tools, automation, and AI and machine learning algorithms capable of detecting, preventing, and containing such threats.

a look at the capitol building from the view of some roses on the ground

How alarm monitoring can help protect you from insider threats

Alarm monitoring software should be a vital part of your strategy for detecting, managing, and preventing insider threats. With a strong alarm monitoring system in place, suspicious behavior, negligent employee actions, or unauthorized access attempts can be immediately flagged, and security personnel alerted automatically and almost instantaneously. This gives you the power to respond rapidly to investigate threats and to mitigate any potential damage from malicious or careless activities.

The right software, for example, can help you easily monitor what staff, contractors, and other personnel are doing across multiple systems, including your IT, access control, video surveillance, and other systems. This can help alert you to suspicious behavior patterns, or spot correlations between seemingly unrelated events that you might have otherwise overlooked.

Strong alarm monitoring software also gives you the benefit of bringing together multiple systems–both digital and physical–into one dashboard, so you can monitor everything from a single point. This unified, birds-eye-view of your security posture can help you manage an incident the moment something suspicious is picked up by one system. But if you aren’t using alarm monitoring software, you might still be toggling between multiple video screens, monitors, and dashboards, potentially overlooking malicious or negligent activity until it is too late.

Integrating IT and physical services

What you need to know before implementing alarm monitoring software

Before you implement alarm monitoring software at your government agency, there are some key things you should know. First, because of the often sensitive or highly confidential nature of your work, a government agency’s needs are very different from those of a commercial enterprise. That means you need to be especially vigilant about the software you install across your systems.

While there are many good alarm monitoring solutions on the market, not all of them have been approved as safe, trusted, and secure for use on government computer systems. If you do not pay attention to this important detail, you risk installing a system that can itself put you at risk or open you up to malicious adversaries or simply leave you exposed at the hands of careless or negligent employees.

We recommend being 100% certain that your chosen alarm monitoring solution has been approved for use on government systems. As a baseline, it should have a current Authority to Operate (ATO) on U.S. government networks. You should also investigate whether the software has passed testing requirements like the Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP), Assured Compliance Assessment Solution (ACAS) and Secure Configuration Compliance. 

Finally, take the time to investigate whether your software is already trusted and used by other state, federal or military agencies. A solution that has only been deployed in the commercial or civilian realm, but has been untested on government networks, can pose unknown risks. Your best bet is to look for systems that other government agencies have already deployed with success.

a look at the lincoln monument from the reflecting pool

How to choose the right alarm monitoring solution

Ready to find the right alarm monitoring solution for your government agency? Here are our top three tips:

  1. Insist on integration. Ensure that your alarm monitoring software can integrate both legacy and modern systems, including IT network monitoring, fire alarm systems, access control, video surveillance, environmental monitoring, life/safety systems, and more. You do not want the expense of ripping up existing fire alarm systems, for example, just because they are a few years old. At the same time, you want to find a solution that can be flexible and scale to meet your needs as you opt to bring new, future technologies onboard.
  1. Insist on government-level security. Be sure your chosen software complies with government regulations. Your alarm monitoring system should be approved for use on government computers. A good starting point is to look for an Authority to Operate (ATO) on U.S. government networks.
  • Insist on possibilities. The right software should give you greater possibilities. Look for features like centralized access control and system management; the ability to monitor and act on alarm data from multiple, integrated sensors; the power of 24/7 monitoring; automatic alerts and automated responses; comprehensive reporting; and an easy-to-use dashboard. 

As you consider different solutions, we invite you to give SIS Alarm Center a try. Alarm Center has the necessary approvals for use on government networks, and is trusted by multiple federal and military agencies including the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State. We are a government partner of choice, and the preferred alarm monitoring and integration software solution for high-security applications. Choose SIS Alarm Center, and see how we can help you combat threats both inside and outside your organization.

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