Enemy at the Water Cooler

True Stories of Insider Threats and Enterprise Security Management Countermeasures


  • Brian Contos, CISSP, Chief Security Officer, ArcSight Inc.

The book covers a decade of work with some of the largest commercial and government agencies around the world in addressing cyber security related to malicious insiders (trusted employees, contractors, and partners). It explores organized crime, terrorist threats, and hackers. It addresses the steps organizations must take to address insider threats at a people, process, and technology level. Today’s headlines are littered with news of identity thieves, organized cyber criminals, corporate espionage, nation-state threats, and terrorists. They represent the next wave of security threats but still possess nowhere near the devastating potential of the most insidious threat: the insider. This is not the bored 16-year-old hacker. We are talking about insiders like you and me, trusted employees with access to information - consultants, contractors, partners, visitors, vendors, and cleaning crews. Anyone in an organization’s building or networks that possesses some level of trust.
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The audience for this book is diverse because those impacted by insiders are also diverse. For those not familiar with insider threats, it will provide a strong foundation. For the expert, it will supply useful anecdotes and outline countermeasures. While the book itself isn’t technical by design, certain subjects do require technical elaboration. Portions of it are designed to address strategic business-level objectives. But since insider threat requires responses from IT operations and security analysts as well as from managers and executives, I’ve written for an inclusive audience. Anyone interested in insider threat— regardless of business perspective—will find useful information within these pages.


Book information

  • Published: October 2006
  • Imprint: SYNGRESS
  • ISBN: 978-1-59749-129-7


Throughout, Contos uses his extensive personal experiences to illustrate Internet security breaches and provide countermeasures. This book requires little if any technical background and is intended to appeal to a broad audience.- Choice, E. M. Aupperle

Table of Contents

Part I: Background on Cyber Crime, Insider Threats, and ESM Chapter One: Cyber Crime and Cyber Criminals• About this Chapter• Computer Dependence and Internet Growth• The Shrinking Vulnerability Threat Window• Motivations for Cyber Criminal Activity o Black Markets• Hacker• Script Kiddies• Solitary Cyber Criminals and Exploit Writers for Hire• Organized Crime• Identity Thieves (Impersonation Fraudsters)• Competitors• Activist Groups, Nation-State Threats, and Terrorists• Activists• Nation-State Threatso Chinao Franceo Russiao United Kingdomo United States• Terrorists• Insiders • Tools of the Tradeo Application-Layer Exploitso Botnets o Buffer Overflowso Code Packingo Denial-of-service (DoS) Attackso More Aggressive and Sophisticated Malwareo Non-wired Attacks and Mobile Devices o Password-cracking o Phishing o Reconnaissance and Googledorks o Rootkits and Keyloggers o Social Engineering Attacks o Voice over IP (VoIP) Attacks o Zero-Day Exploits • Summary Points Chapter Two: Insider Threats• Understanding Who the Insider Is• Psychology of Insider Identification• Insider Threat Examples from the Media• Insider Threats from a Human Perspectiveo A Word on Policies• Insider Threats from a Business Perspectiveo Risk • Insider Threats from a Technical Perspectiveo Need-to-know o Least Privilegeso Separation of Dutieso Strong Authenticationo Access Controls o Incident Detection and Incident Management• Summary Points Chapter Three: Enterprise Security Management (ESM) • ESM in a Nutshell • Key ESM Feature Requirementso Event Collection o Normalization o Categorizationo Asset Information o Vulnerability Informationo Zoning and Global Positioning System Data o Active Lists o Actors o Data Content o Correlation o Prioritization o Event and Response Time Reduction o Anomaly Detection o Pattern Discoveryo Alerting o Case Management o Real-Time Analysis and Forensic Investigation o Visualization o High-level Dashboards o Detailed Visualization o Reporting o Remediation • Return On Investment (ROI) and Return On Security Investment (ROSI) • Alternatives to ESM o Do Nothing o Custom In-house Solutions o Outsourcing and Co-sourcing ? Co-sourcing examples: • Summary Points Part II: Real Life Case Studies Chapter Four: Imbalanced Security—A Singaporean Data Center Chapter Five: Correlating Physical and Logical Security Events—A U.S. Government Organization Chapter Six: Insider with a Conscience—An Austrian Retailer Chapter Seven: Collaborative Threat—A Telecommunications Company in the U.S. Chapter Eight: Outbreak from Within—A Financial Organization in the U.K. Chapter Nine: Mixing Revenge and Passwords—A Utility Company in Brazil Chapter Ten: Rapid Remediation—A University in the United States Chapter Eleven: Suspicious Activity—A Consulting Company in Spain Chapter Twelve: Insiders Abridged • Malicious use of Medical Records • Hosting Pirated Software • Pod-Slurping • Auctioning State Property • Writing Code for another Company • Outsourced Insiders • Smuggling Gold in Rattus Norvegicus Part III: The Extensibility of ESM Chapter Thirteen: Establishing Chain-of-Custody Best Practices with ESM • Disclaimer • Monitoring and disclosure • Provider Protection Exception • Consent Exception • Computer Trespasser Exception • Court Order Exception • Best Practices • Canadian Best Evidence Rule • Summary Points Chapter Fourteen: Addressing Both Insider Threats and Sarbanes-Oxley with ESM • A Primer on Sarbanes-Oxley • Section 302: Corporate Responsibility for Financial Reports • Section 404: Management Assessment of Internal Controls • Separation of Duties • Monitoring Interaction with Financial Processes • Detecting Changes in Controls over Financial Systems • Section 409: Real-time Issuer Disclosures • Summary Points Chapter Fifteen: Incident Management with ESM • Incident Management Basics • Improved Risk Management • Improved Compliance • Reduced Costs • Current Challenges o Process o Organization o Technology • Building an Incident Management Program o Defining Risk • Five Steps to Risk Definition for Incident Management o Process o Training o Stakeholder Involvement o Remediation o Documentation • Reporting and Metrics • Summary Points Chapter Sixteen: Insider Threat Questions and Answers• Introduction • Insider Threat Recap • Question One - Employees o The Hiring Process o Reviews o Awareness o NIST 800-50 o Policies o Standards o Security Memorandum Example • Question Two - Prevention • Question Three – Asset Inventories • Question Four – Log Collection o Security Application Logs o Operating System Log o Web Server Logs o NIST 800-92 • Question Five – Log Analysis • Question Six - Specialized Insider Content • Question Seven – Physical and Logical Security Convergence • Question Eight – IT Governance o NIST 800-53 o Network Account Deletion maps to NIST 800-53 section AC-2 o Vulnerability Scanning maps to NIST 800-53 section RA-5 o Asset Creation maps to NIST 800-53 section CM-4 o Attacks and Suspicious Activity from Public Facing Assets maps to NIST 800-53 section SC-14 o Traffic from Internal to External Assets maps to NIST 800-53 section SC-7 • Question Nine - Incident Response • Question 10 – Must Haves Appendix A—Examples of Cyber Crime Prosecutions