Archive: 2012-01

Hello, this is Lori Flynn, insider threat researcher for the CERT Program. We are proud to announce the release of the fourth edition of the Common Sense Guide to Mitigating Insider Threats. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Network Resilience (FNR) division within the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, which sponsored updating and augmenting the previous edition released in 2009.The newest edition is based on our significantly expanded database of more than 700 insider threat cases and continued research and analysis, and it covers new technologies and new threats.

Hello, this is Todd Lewellen of the CERT Insider Threat Center. We are excited to announce that a revised version of our Spotlight On: Insider Threat from Trusted Business Partners article has been released. It has been almost three years since the first version of this article was published. During that time, our collection of insider threat case data has grown significantly. Specifically, we have collected 30 additional cases involving trusted business partners (TBPs) alone, which increased our sample population from 45 to 75 cases. Some of these case examples have been included in the new revision of the article.

Hi, this is Dan Klinedinst of the CERT Enterprise Threat and Vulnerability Management team. Recently we've been looking to extend the methodologies from our insider threat research to other sorts of threats. Personally, I'm interested in applying well-known analysis techniques to security data in an automated fashion. The goal is to identify classes of threats and watch how they evolve over time. This analysis will allow organizations to adjust their defenses and resources based on the type of threat they face and the risk it poses to their business or mission.

Hi, this is Dawn Cappelli, Director of the CERT Insider Threat Center. Last week I had the pleasure of participating in The Insider Threat Awareness Virtual Roundtable webinar, which was sponsored by the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection. The webinar was moderated by Jon Richeson from DHS, and I was joined by the Supervisory Special Agent from the Insider Threat Investigations Unit of the FBI.

Hi, this is Bill Claycomb and Alex Nicoll with installment 8 of a 10-part series on cloud-related insider threats. In this post, we discuss three more areas of future research for cloud-related insider threats: identifying cloud-based indicators of insider threats, virtualization and hypervisors, and awareness and reporting.

Hi, this is Dawn Cappelli of the CERT Insider Threat Center. We always feel proud when we see others recognize our hard work and, better yet, communicate the results of our work to others. SC Magazine, FedTech, Information Week, eWeek, and GovInfoSecurity have all published articles about the work that the CERT Insider Threat Center has done. We've collected excerpts from each here with a link to the complete article so you can take a look.

Hello, this is Todd Lewellen, information systems security analyst for the CERT Insider Threat Center. We recently conducted a cursory search through our MERIT database for case examples across different industry sectors. This search reminded us just how indiscriminately insider attacks can appear throughout public and private sectors. In other words, while certain insider attacks tend to manifest themselves more often in specific industry sectors, no sector is free from the actions of malicious insiders.

Hi, this is Randy Trzeciak of the CERT Insider Threat Center. Recently, we completed a study that revealed insights into the type of insiders who commit insider financial cyber fraud, how they do it, and what they steal. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, involved 80 real cases of insider cyber fraud in the financial services sector. We conducted the study working with the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and project partners from the U.S. financial services sector.

A third type of cloud-related insider is one who uses cloud services to carry out an attack on his own employer. This type of insider is similar to the previous type who targets systems or data in the cloud. In contrast, the third type of insider uses the cloud as a tool to carry out an attack on systems or data targeted, which are not necessarily associated with cloud-based systems.

Hi, this is Bill Claycomb and Alex Nicoll with installment 3 of a 10-part series on cloud-related insider threats. In this post, we discuss a second type of cloud-related insider threat: those that exploit weaknesses introduced by use of the cloud.

Last week we discussed the rogue administrator, one type of cloud-related insider threat. A second type of cloud-related insider threat, often overlooked by security researchers, is the insider who exploits vulnerabilities exposed by the use of cloud services to gain unauthorized access to organization systems and/or data. This type of attack may be malicious or accidental, and is sometimes enabled by differences in security policies or access control models between cloud-based and local systems.

Hi, this is Bill Claycomb and Alex Nicoll with installment 2 of a 10-part series on cloud-related insider threats. In this post, we present three types of cloud-related insiders and discuss one in detail--the "rogue administrator." This insider typically steals the cloud provider's sensitive information, but can also sabotage its IT infrastructure. The insider described by this threat may be motivated financially or by revenge.

Hi, this is Bill Claycomb, lead research scientist for the CERT Insider Threat Center and Alex Nicoll, technical team lead for Insider Threat Technical Solutions and Standards. Over the next few months, we will discuss, in a series of blog posts, problems related to insiders in the cloud, defending against them, and researching approaches that could help solve some of these problems.

For years the CERT Insider Threat Center has been studying organizations' current and former employees, contractors, and trusted business partners who steal intellectual property (IP) from their organizations. We have published reports that detail the problem: who does it, why, when, how, etc. We have also published reports on mitigation strategies based on our analysis of the problem. (Links to the reports are at the bottom of this post). These strategies focus on the detection of suspicious online actions, as well as logging strategies that provide electronic evidence to assist in the response process when insider theft is detected. A recent testimony by the FBI suggests that organizations need to pay attention to this significant problem.

The CERT Guide to Insider Threats: How to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Information Technology Crimes (Theft, Sabotage, Fraud) by Addison-Wesley Professional has recently been published. The book is available for purchase at Addison-Wesley's InformIT website at

The term organized crime brings up images of mafia dons, dimly lit rooms, and bank heists. The reality today is more nuanced; especially as organized crime groups have moved their activities online. The CERT Insider Threat Center recently released a publication titled Spotlight On: Malicious Insiders and Organized Crime Activity. This article focuses on a cross-section of CERT's insider threat data, incidents consisting of 2 or more individuals involved in a crime. What we found is that insiders involved in organized crime caused more damage (approximately $3M per crime) and bypassed protections by involving multiple individuals in the crime.

The Insider Threat Center at CERT recently released a new insider threat control that is specifically designed to detect the presence of a malicious insider based on key indicators to Information Technology (IT) sabotage activity. This blog post provides an overview of the control and the rationale behind its development. For more details describing the development of the control and the statistical analysis used and applied in this signature please refer to the technical report: