The CERT Guide to Insider Threats: How to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Information Technology Crimes (Theft, Sabotage, Fraud) / Edition 1

The CERT Guide to Insider Threats: How to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Information Technology Crimes (Theft, Sabotage, Fraud) / Edition 1

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by Dawn M. Cappelli, Andrew P. Moore, Randall F. Trzeciak

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ISBN-10: 0321812573

ISBN-13: 9780321812575

Pub. Date: 02/09/2012

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Since 2001, the CERT® Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) has collected and analyzed information about more than seven hundred insider cyber crimes, ranging from national security espionage to theft of trade secrets. The CERT® Guide to Insider Threats describes


Since 2001, the CERT® Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) has collected and analyzed information about more than seven hundred insider cyber crimes, ranging from national security espionage to theft of trade secrets. The CERT® Guide to Insider Threats describes CERT’s findings in practical terms, offering specific guidance and countermeasures that can be immediately applied by executives, managers, security officers, and operational staff within any private, government, or military organization.

The authors systematically address attacks by all types of malicious insiders, including current and former employees, contractors, business partners, outsourcers, and even cloud-computing vendors. They cover all major types of insider cyber crime: IT sabotage, intellectual property theft, and fraud. For each, they present a crime profile describing how the crime tends to evolve over time, as well as motivations, attack methods, organizational issues, and precursor warnings that could have helped the organization prevent the incident or detect it earlier. Beyond identifying crucial patterns of suspicious behavior, the authors present concrete defensive measures for protecting both systems and data.

This book also conveys the big picture of the insider threat problem over time: the complex interactions and unintended consequences of existing policies, practices, technology, insider mindsets, and organizational culture. Most important, it offers actionable recommendations for the entire organization, from executive management and board members to IT, data owners, HR, and legal departments.

With this book, you will find out how to

  • Identify hidden signs of insider IT sabotage, theft of sensitive information, and fraud
  • Recognize insider threats throughout the software development life cycle
  • Use advanced threat controls to resist attacks by both technical and nontechnical insiders
  • Increase the effectiveness of existing technical security tools by enhancing rules, configurations, and associated business processes
  • Prepare for unusual insider attacks, including attacks linked to organized crime or the Internet underground

By implementing this book’s security practices, you will be incorporating protection mechanisms designed to resist the vast majority of malicious insider attacks.

Product Details

Publication date:
SEI Series in Software Engineering Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xxxi

Chapter 1: Overview 1

True Stories of Insider Attacks 3

The Expanding Complexity of Insider Threats 6

Breakdown of Cases in the Insider Threat Database 7

CERT’s MERIT Models of Insider Threats 9

Overview of the CERT Insider Threat Center 13

Timeline of the CERT Program’s Insider Threat Work. 16

Caveats about Our Work 20

Summary 20

Chapter 2: Insider IT Sabotage 23

General Patterns in Insider IT Sabotage Crimes 28

Mitigation Strategies 46

Summary 59

Chapter 3: Insider Theft of Intellectual Property 61

Impacts 66

General Patterns in Insider Theft of Intellectual Property Crimes 68

The Entitled Independent 69

The Ambitious Leader 78

Theft of IP inside the United States Involving Foreign Governments or Organizations 83

Mitigation Strategies for All Theft of Intellectual Property Cases 88

Mitigation Strategies: Final Thoughts 97

Summary 98

Chapter 4: Insider Fraud 101

General Patterns in Insider Fraud Crimes 106

Insider Fraud Involving Organized Crime 115

Organizational Issues of Concern and Potential Countermeasures 120

Mitigation Strategies: Final Thoughts 126

Summary 127

Chapter 5: Insider Threat Issues in the Software Development Life Cycle 129

Requirements and System Design Oversights 131

System Implementation, Deployment, and Maintenance Issues 136

Programming Techniques Used As an Insider Attack Tool 139

Mitigation Strategies 142

Summary 143

Chapter 6: Best Practices for the Prevention and Detection of Insider Threats 145

Summary of Practices 146

Practice 1: Consider Threats from Insiders and Business Partners in Enterprise-Wide Risk Assessments 151

Practice 2: Clearly Document and Consistently Enforce Policies and Controls 155

Practice 3: Institute Periodic Security Awareness Training for All Employees 159

Practice 4: Monitor and Respond to Suspicious or Disruptive Behavior, Beginning with the Hiring Process 164

Practice 5: Anticipate and Manage Negative Workplace Issues 168

Practice 6: Track and Secure the Physical Environment 171

Practice 7: Implement Strict Password- and Account-Management Policies and Practices 174

Practice 8: Enforce Separation of Duties and Least Privilege 178

Practice 9: Consider Insider Threats in the Software Development Life Cycle 182

Practice 10: Use Extra Caution with System Administrators and Technical or Privileged Users 187

Practice 11: Implement System Change Controls 191

Practice 12: Log, Monitor, and Audit Employee Online Actions 195

Practice 13: Use Layered Defense against Remote Attacks 200

Practice 14: Deactivate Computer Access Following Termination 203

Practice 15: Implement Secure Backup and Recovery Processes 207

Practice 16: Develop an Insider Incident Response Plan 211

Summary 213

References/Sources of Best Practices 214

Chapter 7: Technical Insider Threat Controls 215

Infrastructure of the Lab 217

Demonstrational Videos 218

High-Priority Mitigation Strategies 219

Control 1: Use of Snort to Detect Exfiltration of Credentials Using IRC 220

Control 2: Use of SiLK to Detect Exfiltration of Data Using VPN 221

Control 3: Use of a SIEM Signature to Detect Potential Precursors to Insider IT Sabotage 223

Control 4: Use of Centralized Logging to Detect Data Exfiltration during an Insider’s Last Days of Employment 231

Insider Threat Exercises 239

Summary 239

Chapter 8: Case Examples 241

Sabotage Cases 241

Sabotage/Fraud Cases 256

Theft of IP Cases 258

Fraud Cases 262

Miscellaneous Cases 269

Summary 273

Chapter 9: Conclusion and Miscellaneous Issues 275

Insider Threat from Trusted Business Partners 275

Malicious Insiders with Ties to the Internet Underground 286

Final Summary 293

Appendix A: Insider Threat Center Products and Services 299

Appendix B: Deeper Dive into the Data 307

Appendix C: CyberSecurity Watch Survey 319

Appendix D: Insider Threat Database Structure 325

Appendix E: Insider Threat Training Simulation: MERIT InterActive 333

Appendix F: System Dynamics Background 345

Glossary of Terms 351

References 359

About the Authors 365

Index 369

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The CERT Guide to Insider Threats: How to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Information Technology Crimes (Theft, Sabotage, Fraud) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SDSUG Book Review I found Cappelli, Moore, and Trzeciak's CERT Guide to Insider Threats to be a fascinating read, even considering my limited knowledge level. I knew I was in for some serious mind-stimulation based solely on the length of the preface and acknowledgments. My favorite part of the book is that it is designed so that every chapter can be self-sustaining, and reading the whole book in order isn’t actually necessary – just read chapter 1 and then you are free to read whatever chapter sounds the neatest…or is the most relevant to your situation. For example, take chapters 1-4. Chapter 1 provides an overview and briefs you on the three types of insider IT threats (as defined by CERT). It also introduces you to the CERT Insider Threat Center and the CERT database. Chapters 2-4 then elaborate on each of the three insider threats introduced in chapter 1, with a chapter dedicated to each threat respectively. One thing to note: this book intentionally chooses to exclude national security espionage. Chapter 5 covers vulnerabilities in software engineering, exposing a company to malicious insiders. 6 and 7 focus on mitigation, while chapter 8 is chocked full of actual examples from the CERT database. Even Chapter 9, which is advertised as a “conclusion” still has loads of information to present – mostly stuff that didn’t really fit in the other chapters. To top it all off, there are several appendices that are as much must-read material as any of the chapters in this book. Now, it’s probably relevant to my review that I disclose that I am not in the IT industry…yet. Though I am no spring chicken, I have returned to school the last couple years to study this subject and I do hope to find employment in this field very soon. With that being said, having a book like this to help develop my understanding is invaluable. The layout and design of the book does mean that there are some subjects (even entire chapters) that may not have relevance to everyone, but considering how much of a threat insiders pose (as this book helped me to fully grasp), in my opinion this is a tool more so than a book to read. Granted, I may be quite a ways off from being in a position to implement strategies provided in this book or to even be remotely influential in any kind of threat prevention, but this book does help build a foundation of knowledge that every employee anywhere should have and understand. We’ve all heard the stories of people who try to “stick it to the man”, but what this book really excels at is developing such an awareness of the true threat that insiders pose, that you can’t help but walk away from this book trying to put yourself in the minds of any disgruntled friends/coworkers you may have. Overall I found the book to be well written and easy to follow. The writers of this book clearly want you to take away some very important information, so they even go so far as to include highlighted Tips and Notes sections throughout the book – and not just a few! Pretty much every few pages there’s at least either a note and/or tip to digest. As a current student, I especially appreciated that this book is written similar to a textbook. Clearly, the people at the CERT threat center want their readers to actually LEARN something (many somethings in fact), versus just being entertained. Ultimately, though this book is geared for those already embedded in the industry, it is written as an educational tool, giving it value even to those of us who don’t have a wealth of IT experience. I would absolutely recommend this book! For those just curious about how damaging insider threats can truly be, read chapter 1 and then jump to chapter 8. I guarantee after that, you’ll want to delve further into CERT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book review for SDSUG-The authors of The Cert Guide to Insider Threats went to great lengths to teach the reader how to spot precursor behaviors and patterns leading up to an attack. This book outlines not only the skills needed to analyze the data coming in, but also what data to look for and the mitigation strategies to stop a threat from doing damage. It is clear the authors have done extensive research into the subject and offer creditable solutions to the problem. I would highly recommend this book to security professionals as well as anyone else interested in the subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book, "The CERT Guide to Insider Threats: How to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Information Technology Crimes (Theft, Sabotage, Fraud)" is a very interesting and informative read. This book breaks down and categorizes insider threats into three categories which are: 1) Insider IT Sabotage, 2) Insider Theft of Intellectual Property and 3) Insider Fraud. This breakdown simplifies deciding what kinds of insider threats exist for the reader. I think the book's idea of linking particular events listed in human resource records, particularly those of system and network administrators, as automatic triggers for IT Security audits is an excellent idea. This book has thoroughly and successfully presented it's theory that a correlation between a system and network administrator's downward slide in their behavior as reflected by their human resource's record and their potential as a disgruntled employee that could be a potential insider threat exists. This book's presentation of the many documented cases where disgruntled employees who became insider threats actually carried out attacks categorized into one of the three above mentioned categories, solidly supports this theory. I would really like to suggest automatically activating an IT Security audit of any system and network administrator who appears to be disgruntled as reflected by their human resource records to my company. Such an automatically activated audit would be an excellent way to prevent someone with elevated privileges from carrying out an insider attack. However, the sad reality is, I don't think many companies would dedicate the time & money needed to implement such a program, until this correlation could be accurately quantified in terms of justifying how it would save the company money. Quantifying the value of proactive IT Security is the most difficult thing about justifying it's existence. Perhaps the next step in proving this theory would be to quantify exactly in terms of dollars and cents how much money a company could save by implementing this program. Overall though, I believe this book could be valuable to anyone involved in IT Security. Even if a company chose not to implement an automatic IT Security audit of a network or system administrator who looks like they may be on their way out, the information presented in this book could really help any company recognize the warning signs of someone who is disgrunted, who may be turning into an insider threat that may carry out an IT network.