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What is an Insider Threat Cyber Awareness 2024

In today’s data-driven world, organizations store more sensitive information than ever before. While exterior cyber-attacks often grab headlines, the most damaging data breaches frequently come from inside a company’s own walls. These attacks, known as insider threats, come from employees, contractors, partners, or other authorized users with privileged access. Insider threats may be malicious in nature, such as an angry employee stealing data out of vengeance. But many internal attacks are also inadvertent or stem from careless behavior like failing to follow security protocols.

Regardless of intent, insider threats present a major cyber security challenge that organizations must continually train their workforce to mitigate. Annual cyber awareness campaigns aim to educate employees on best practices for handling sensitive information. Campaigns like the annual cyber awareness challenge help organizations test their vulnerabilities and prepare their response plans by running simulated insider threat scenarios.
As insider attacks grow more prevalent, robust cyber awareness and internal security cultures will only increase in importance. Companies that equip their workforce with knowledge and tools to protect data are best positioned to avoid disastrous breaches.

In this blog, we will briefly discuss what an insider threat is. Cyber awareness challenges of 2023 and 2024. Read on to learn more.

What is an Insider Threat

An insider threat refers to when an employee or other authorized person misuses their access to harm their own organization. Insiders have privileges that allow them to view and interact with sensitive company data, whether intentionally or accidentally.

Insider threats make up a large portion of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Studies show over 55% of reported attacks involve an insider. This could be anything from an employee stealing and selling private customer information to an intern accidentally emailing out confidential business files. Their legitimate access helps them bypass many external cyber defenses.

Insiders don’t always intend to cause harm, but their actions still damage their company. Whether due to curiosity, carelessness, or disgruntlement, insider mistakes account for billions in cyber-crime costs every year. Preventing these threats through workforce education and access controls is a priority for companies across industries like finance, technology, retail, and healthcare. As organizations store more data electronically, vigilance against insider threats only grows more critical. Investing in cyber awareness training and insider risk programs can help mitigate potential attacks arising from within one’s own walls.


Types of Insider Threats

Insider threats encompass various risks that originate from within a company’s own trusted members. There is no single profile of an insider threat, as attacks can be either malicious or unintentional. While motivations and methods vary, the damage inflicted on companies can be severe regardless of intent. 3 most common types of insider threats are:

Types of insider threats

Malicious Insider Threat

The most common insider threat comes from malicious insider threats. Recent firings, passed-over promotions, workplace conflicts, and feelings of inadequate compensation can all fuel these attacks. With anger fueling them, these insiders intentionally use their access to damage systems before they quit or get let go. Doing the same job for a long time gives them specialized data skills. With the inside details they know, upset insiders are crafty at carrying out secret attacks.
Insider sabotage happens in nearly 40% of breaches that cost companies money yearly. Almost half of these insider assaults were linked to resentful behavior over job troubles. Knowing systems so well lets these dangerous insiders cause 75% more harm than outside hackers, up to millions of dollars of damage.

Careless or Untrained Insiders

Many insider threats originate from otherwise well-meaning insiders who simply make mistakes due to inadequate security training or negligence. Whether due to time pressures, ignorance, or simple oversight, these users fail to follow information handling protocols. Their small breaches collectively add up, accounting for nearly 18% of all reported insider incidents.
For example, a rushed support tech may prematurely dispose of a hard drive containing unencrypted client data. A distracted accountant working from home could click and download malware onto a device that also stores financial records. Regardless of motive, such mistakes can leave companies dangerously exposed.


Greedy Insiders Looking for Profit

Not all insiders wish damage upon their employers; some are motivated by greed. These money-driven employees exploit their access to steal corporate information or assets for personal gain. Secretly stolen data sets or source code get sold to competitors for hefty sums. System credentials are abused to manipulate records in money-transferring positions.
Depending on access levels, the schemes vary from small-scale merchandise theft to large-scale data auctions earning millions. Once viewed as trustworthy staff, these insiders ultimately prioritize enriching themselves over obligations to their employer.

Detecting Insider Threat

Spotting an insider threat is tricky for companies. Sneaky employees try hiding their data, stealing, or breaking rules. It can be hard to notice when busy, but careless workers accidentally mishandle information. But letting threats slip by puts company secrets and systems at risk. So, organizations make efforts to detect strange data activity that might mean an insider problem.

Advanced computers now help track how workers access files. If someone downloads unusually large amounts of data at once, it can trigger an alert. IT teams also watch for staff poking around confidential parts of networks they shouldn’t need. They take note of whether computers or accounts used for sensitive tasks shift behavior suddenly. Stricter login rules, stronger email filters, and security training also help make problems less likely.

Experts estimate over 59% of companies surveyed had encountered an insider threat in the past year alone. But less than half feel fully prepared to find and stop attacks. As more work devices store more data, proactive monitoring and defense get more crucial. Stopping just one disastrous data leak could save a company’s reputation and millions of dollars.

Cyber Awareness Challenge 2023

The 2023 cyber awareness challenge continues efforts to harden company defenses against growing insider threats. This annual program, run by industry and government experts, aims to strengthen the skills that separate secure organizations from vulnerable ones.

Getting Creative with Attack Simulations

  • Realistic scenarios force teams to think fast: The 2023 challenge designed immersive scenarios mimicking plausible insider strikes like stolen credentials, leaked files, and fraud. Participants role-play their emergency responses, uncovering weaknesses.
  • New attack vectors highlighted emerging risks: Phishing schemes and supply chain partner negligence were featured this year. Participants experienced rising social engineering and third-party vendor threats.
  • Customized “Cyber Rangers” amplified awareness: Specially trained workspace infiltrators injected extra threats daily. Their visibility reminded staff to stay alert.

Widespread Adoption Reflects Higher Stakes

  • Over 500 organizations are registered across defense, technology, healthcare, and finance sectors, which is a new high.
  • Large and small businesses alike took part, showing extensive need for training. Attacks grow more sophisticated, and 74% of companies admit they lack resources to prevent breaches.

As data amounts and regulation pressures build, insider threat awareness is no longer optional. It is a cost of doing business. Training like the cyber awareness challenge will only increase in prominence and participation. Mastering threat detection and mitigation abilities well before a crisis strikes is one of the best ways to protect critical assets.

Cyber Awareness Challenge 2024

With damaging insider attacks on the rise, next year’s cyber awareness challenge doubles down on breach prevention from 2023. The 2024 challenge intends to rigorously test company vigilance against not only external dangers but also those lurking internally.

Cyber awareness challenges of 2023 and 2024

Elevating Insider Threat Prominence

  • The new “Insider Threat” track spotlights evolving risks: A specialty track concentrates completely on risks from those with internal access, including employees, contractors, and partners.
  • Malware design will emulate insider tactics: Challenge developers will craft sneakier malware able to evade standard defenses by exploiting internal knowledge.
  • More complex hybrid attacks to reflect real-world trends: Combination of external and internal strikes will challenge response coordination across teams.

Advancing Defensive Knowledge

  • An expanded curriculum around insider psychology and patterns training will probe complex motives and situational factors driving different attacks.
  • Enhanced focus on access controls and activity monitoring exercises will assess appropriate access levels and usage anomaly detection to uncover stealthy threats.
  • Vendor management injection to reflect supply chain threat scenarios featuring third-party negligence will force accountability discussions.

With insiders causing nearly 60% of reported breaches, the 2024 Challenge acknowledges aggressive readiness is crucial. As hybrid and supply chain attacks increase, cross-functional collaboration and vigilance become mandatory.


As the cyber world grows riskier each year, insider threats create massive dangers that organizations must properly train against. The yearly cyber awareness challenge helps companies test just how prepared they are to stop data theft and security incidents before they occur. Studies show breaches from insiders, partners, and vendors make up over half of all reported cyber-attacks. With numbers this high across industries like business, defense, and banking, there is clearly a widespread need to improve defenses from within.

Contact us and get more information about insider threat cyber awareness challenges in 2024!

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