Cybersecurity is a topic that covers many different facets when it comes to technology and insider threat statistics highlight a pressing issue.
From a business or personal perspective, protecting your information has become more challenging than ever.
One example would be that many devices and applications offer two to three security measures for you to use.
Insider threats consider cyberattacks that come from within an organization.
Within the last two years alone, incidents with insider threats have increased by 47%.
Moreover, the cost for every insider threat that’s effective is $15.38 million based on data from 2022.
The topic shouldn’t be taken lightly, and many organizations are looking for every avenue to protect themselves inside and out.
Cybersecurity is a quickly changing industry that is rapidly adapting to changing technologies to help improve security and reduce theft.
- 60% of all data breaches are caused by insider threats
- Roughly 34% of businesses worldwide are affected by insider threats at least once per year
- 53% of survey respondents admit that detecting insider threats in the cloud is more challenging
- 68% of organizations found insider threats to be more frequent throughout 2020
- 60% of companies have more than 20 insider threats every year
- 70% of reported insider threats don’t come from an external source
- Companies in the U.S. come across an estimated 2,200 security breaches every day
- Insider threats that come from trusted business partners range from 15% to 25%
Insider Threat Statistics on the Surface
As unfortunate as it may be, insider threats are a real issue in cyber security for organizations all over the world.
Some people affiliated with a company may not always have the best intentions, which can be seen in the prevalent statistics surrounding insider threats.
You’ll find that a few statistics will seem rather mild compared to others, but these threats can cause substantial damage to a company and everyone else involved.
This also isn’t a recent issue, as insider threats have been an issue in the corporate world for generations.
Technology so happens to make it a lot easier to be an insider threat and get away with it, which is why we’re seeing an uptick in this threat in recent years.
1. Privileged Users are an Increased Risk
Among surveyed organizations, roughly 55% feel that privileged users within the organization are the biggest risk of becoming an insider threat.
This thought primarily comes from a mix of historical data and a gut feeling.
Privileged job titles in an organization generally mean they have access to quite a bit of sensitive information.
With access to company-wide information, it can be pretty simple to become an insider threat without anyone immediately realizing it.
Of course, this particular issue can be mitigated by following ample security measures, but you can’t catch them all.
It’s also important to note that although privileged job titles are seen as a higher risk, this doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that these individuals will become an insider threat.
2. Organizations are Feeling Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks
Most people are well aware of how easy it is to hack information in our modern era.
Even with all of the multi-level security measures we have available, hackers always find their way around it if they really want to.
Data shows that 74% of businesses feel moderately to extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Between hacking horror stories and reviewing the state of their own security, one data breach can negatively impact a company with ease.
Although it seems like a hopeless endeavor to some people, investing in proper cyber security can help to reduce these vulnerabilities and make an organization less of a target.
3. Insider Threats Have Become More Frequent
Between 2020 and 2022, statistics show that there was an increase in insider threats by 47%.
On top of that, the cost of each of those threats averages out to $15.38 million.
Among the information stolen by these insider threats, credential theft ended up costing the most money.
Over the course of two years, credential theft went from $2.79 million to $4.6 million.
This is an increase of 65%, and it should also be noted that this happened during the height of the pandemic.
During this time, cyber security was a rampant issue as everyone’s lives immediately shifted to the online world.
The burst of insider threats over the last two years won’t be an ongoing issue forever, but it caused enough damage that some people are still recovering.
In some cases, insider threats can be caught, but more often than not, it’s already after the damage has been done.
4. Who are the Insider Threats?
The term “insider threat” is generally understood by most people, but who are the people behind this title, and why do they decide to act on it?
In short, most people who are comfortable enough to be an insider threat see some kind of monetary incentive for their actions.
They have access to information others don’t and can use that information to line their own pockets.
Nevertheless, it’s known that administrators, C-level executives, and other privileged employees are the most prone to be an insider threat.
In this brief list below, you can get a better look at which positions are most commonly associated with insider threat actors.
- Managers = 60%
- Contractors and Consultants = 57%
- Regular Employees = 51%
Many people are good at hiding their true intentions, which is why thorough security measures are vital within any organization.
It’s usually some of the most unsuspecting characters that are the insider threat, and they’re able to hide behind their job title to get the task done.
When it comes to cyber security, most of the general public is familiar with data breaches.
You’d be surprised at how many data breaches start with an insider threat.
5. A Leader in Data Breaches
As data breaches become a more frequent issue throughout the world, many people wonder how they even happen in the first place.
Sometimes it only takes one person, and other circumstances include much larger and more convoluted operations.
Regardless, insider threats are a leading cause of all data breaches, accounting for 60% of them across the globe.
Trying to steal information from the inside is always a lot easier than trying to handle it from the outside.
Insider threats know this and use their resources to take advantage and steal what they can in the process.
Although there have been spikes in cyber security concerns in recent years, they shouldn’t always be so rampant.
However, insider threats won’t cease to exist, and it’s wise to understand the different types that exist so you know what to look out for in the future.
6. Different Types of Insider Threats
Insider threats consider many different approaches, each with their own end goal.
You might be surprised to learn that not all insider threats are intentional, as a simple misuse of information can cause some data breaches.
The most common type of insider threat in the United States is called data exfiltration.
Other insider threats commonly found throughout U.S. organizations include privilege misuse, infrastructure sabotage, circumvention of IT controls, and more.
Businesses worry about the following insider threats the most:
- Inadvertent data breaches = 71%
- Negligence of employees = 68%
- Malicious data breaches = 61%
Many organizations constantly worry about malicious cyber attacks, and they also need to be worried about how information is handled internally.
It’s important for employees to be trusted and work well together, but security measures should always be in place for the worst-case scenario.
The Real Costs of Insider Threats
From a personal and financial standpoint, insider threats have the ability to impact the lives of everyone affiliated with an organization.
Social security numbers, addresses, bank account information, and more can all be affected by an insider threat.
Regardless if the threat is small or large, they tend to cost businesses hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
That, in conjunction with the issue of stolen personal information, is why organizations are looking for improvements in cyber security.
7. Spending on Information Security and Risk Management
More and more money is being put to use to heighten the efficacy and capability of cybersecurity technology.
In 2022, spending on this particular topic was $17 billion higher than it was the year before.
Data breaches and cybersecurity are issues that are hitting essentially any industry you can think of.
If it hasn’t already at this rate, then it’s only a matter of time.
In the list below, you can get an idea of how businesses are spending their money on cybersecurity.
- 69% of business firms plan to shift more money to risk management and information security
- 26% of this group plan to increase their budgets to these areas by 10%
- Roughly 49% of organizations invested in cybersecurity due to best practices and compliance
- Only 35% of this demographic invested due to their own security incidents
- 38% invested based on digital transformation risks
Each organization is going to have their own primary drivers for why they want to invest more in cybersecurity.
However, the main goal still stands: protecting private information, reducing costs, and increasing profits.
8. Where Insider Threats Drive the Largest Bills
The United States has plenty of insider threats to deal with on its own, but these cyber security risks can be found causing trouble all over the world.
With millions of dollars going down the drain due to insider threats, it’s a problem that many countries are actively facing every day.
North America takes the lead in average costs due to insider threats, but who comes next in line?
|Region||Insider Threat Cost|
|North America||$13.3 million|
|Middle East||$11.65 million|
These are just a few examples, as they’re leaders when it comes to encountering insider threats.
You can also break down average costs based on the size of a company.
Some interesting statistics come out of this, as it’s pretty clear that larger companies have more trouble with insider threats when compared to smaller organizations.
|# of Employees||Insider Threat Cost|
|Less than 500||$7.68 million|
|500 to 1,000||$6.92 million|
|1,001 to 5,000||$9.65 million|
|5,001 to 10,000||$12.64 million|
|10,001 to 25,000||$13.95 million|
|25,001 to 75,000||$17.92 million|
It seems that the 25,001 to 75,000 range sees the most issues related to insider threat costs above all others.
Medium to large size companies, in general, are more prone to this type of cyber security issue.
It’s a bit easier to keep your eye on everything in a smaller business, but employees can easily find a way to slip through the cracks in a larger organization.
9. Breaking Down the Costs
From a bird’s eye view, all we see are millions of dollars being lost due to data breaches, but where does all of this money actually go?
Organizations have numerous security measures in place to deal with something like an insider threat, and it tends to be a long, drawn-out process.
Thanks to data, statistics can show us where companies are spending their money to deal with an insider threat.
Although some courses of action are more important than others, companies have a lot to focus on to get to the bottom of an insider threat.
This chart helps to provide a visualization as to why insider threats are so damaging to multiple levels within a company.
This also makes you wonder which industries are impacted the most.
Insider threats don’t discriminate, and there are a few industries that have shown to be targeted on a noticeable basis.
You can also discern this by simply looking at total costs in different industries centered around insider threats.
10. Which Industries Have the Highest Insider Threat Costs?
For the most part, financial institutions take the cake when it comes to costs related to insider threats.
The most recent average that’s available states that financial institutions spend roughly $21.25 million managing insider threats.
Keep in mind this is a 47% increase from the year prior, highlighting a rising issue in cybersecurity.
Another industry that isn’t too far behind, the retail space, has encountered quite a few issues with insider threats as well.
Insider threat costs in the retail market have reached an average of $16.56 million, which is a jump of 62%.
Unfortunately, insider threats and data breaches happen at a pace that can be too hard to prevent.
In the same vein, many organizations are behind on the level of cybersecurity they need to combat the landscape of the modern era.
The costs that stem from the insider threat itself look different based on the type of threat, with some being historically more damaging than others.
11. What’s the Cost of Each Insider Threat Incident?
Not all insider threats are the same, and there are a few different well-known versions based on how the data breach is approached.
You can break them down between credential thieves, criminal insiders, and negligent insiders.
Each of them focuses on a specific person or party involved with an organization and the method of the insider threat.
Per incident costs among different insider threat costs include:
- Negligent insiders = $307,000 per incident
- Criminal insiders = $756,000 per incident
- Credential thieves = $871,000 per incident
Some threats can be more expensive than others, but companies fear all insider threats the same.
They can be damaging by stealing proprietary data, personal information, financial information, and much more.
All of this can turn into high costs for the company, damages to the employees, and the potential for ongoing legal trouble.
12. Containment is a Top Priority
It’s also important to consider how long it takes an organization to contain an insider threat once it has been identified.
Mitigating the damage that has been done is rarely an easy task, and statistics show that it takes roughly 77 to 85 days to fully contain an insider threat.
During that time, costs are stacking up until the threat is eventually eliminated.
For every incident involving an insider threat, the containment process costs organizations an average of $184,548.
Spending on cybersecurity measures toward insider threats is up 114% from 2016 as companies rush to get ahead of this modern wave of cyber attacks.
A lot of the investments that are going into cybersecurity is based on what can be done about prevention methods.
Everyone agrees that you can’t beat cyber attacks 100% of the time, but it shouldn’t be so frequent.
Organizations are waking up to the fact that cybersecurity needs to be more of a priority moving forward.
Insider Threat Prevention
Tides in the cybersecurity space are shifting as many traditional security methods aren’t working as well as they used to.
Nowadays, organizations need backups on top of backups when it comes to security measures.
This is especially true regarding insider threats, as that’s one of the most vulnerable angles for any company.
13. Tools to Reduce Insider Threats
There are many tools in place that businesses can use to ward off the potential for insider threats.
You’ll see a trend in some of the statistics below, as more companies should be utilizing some, if not all, of these tools.
It also shows a clear lack of understanding of necessary cybersecurity measures.
The percentages below highlight the companies that use each tool or activity toward insider threat prevention.
- Data loss prevention (DLP) = 54%
- User behavior analytics (UBA) = 50%
- Employee monitoring & surveillance = 47%
- Security incident & event management (SIEM) = 45%
- Incident response management (IRM) = 44%
- Strict third-party vetting procedures = 43%
These are only a few categories that are involved in threat prevention.
However, the percentages keep going down from there.
Half or less than half of organizations are utilizing many different cybercrime prevention methods.
Whether it’s a lack of understanding, no sense of urgency, or a cost issue, many companies are oblivious to the importance of cybersecurity.
14. Internal Poses More Challenges Than External
Insider threats come with a very unique challenge that’s different from what an external cyber attack tends to deliver.
In many cases, insider threats can be much harder to detect and prevent, and many organizations agree with this sentiment.
48% feel this way, to be exact, which is another reason for the increase in investments toward this cybersecurity issue.
Of course, external cyber attacks can be equally, if not more damaging, but those can be easier to detect and prevent in some circumstances.
With insider threats becoming a more prevalent issue, many companies are looking for every avenue on how they can protect themselves.
15. Why are Insider Threats More Difficult?
It’s no secret as to what makes insider threats such a challenge to manage.
Organizations are well aware of the root issues, but many still haven’t found a way to protect themselves from every side.
There have been certain changes in technology that have made insider threats more difficult to detect.
One prime example is cloud computing, with 53% of companies admitting the transition to this technology has made it more challenging to detect insider threats.
A few factors making insider threat detection and prevention difficult include:
- Insiders have credentialed access to the network = 59%
- Increased use of applications that can lead to leaked data = 50%
- An increase in the amount of data that leaves protected parameters = 47%
Organizations have so many different angles to keep their eyes on it can feel like a never-ending battle.
Regardless, due to what’s at stake, the fight won’t end, and companies continue to look for the most effective cybersecurity measures.
Always keep in mind cybersecurity is a significant concern for corporations, but it affects millions of people on a personal level as well.
Insider threats will continue to be an issue, but how we detect and prevent them can be optimized.
It’s about adapting to the problem, as there’s very little chance it’ll be eliminated entirely.
This article provided a realistic view of insider threat statistics and the reality they pose on businesses and individuals alike.