New Paper Addresses Insider Threat and Remote Work

September 16, 2021

ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 16, 2021)—The Intelligence & National Security Alliance has released a new white paper, Managing Insider Threats in a Remote Work Environment: Lessons from the Pandemic that provides observations based on expert-level interviews on how the shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Insider Threat Programs and makes recommendations on how to mitigate enhanced insider threat risks in this challenging environment.

Developed by INSA’s Insider Threat Subcommittee, the paper finds that the impact of the pandemic created both technical and psychological challenges for organizations that increased the risk of insider threats. Due to the influx of electronic communication (instant messaging, phone calls, etc.), more data was being stored and shared electronically that raised the risk of sensitive data being mishandled. Organizations found it more difficult to secure sensitive data and prevent employee data hoarding due to job security concerns. At the same time, in addition to the isolation and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, intensified racial tensions and a divisive presidential election contributed to social unrest nationwide and have been highlighted as sources of psychological stress. With a lack of in-person communication, organizations lost the ability to assess these psychological risk indicators and reduce employee stressors that could lead to insider threats.

The paper concludes that remote work has become a more widespread option for organizations, and “a hybrid workplace that incorporates remote work will require updated security and insider threat measures to ensure the most safe and secure work environment possible.”

Key recommendations include:

  • Ensure privacy and security programs utilize the latest security technologies
  • Ensure remote environments are updated to protect company devices and data while operating on public and private networks
  • Collaborate with communications teams to develop creative insider threat messaging and awareness campaigns specifically for remote personnel
  • Establish a “COVID-19 Burnout” hotline that employees use to generate ideas and solutions with their managers
  • “Paid time off” during their workday for employees to engage in physical and mental wellness programs