How employee monitoring can help us all

Traditionally, perpetrators have been found in the stock room, maybe working a register, or handling accounting. However, with the advent of corporate IT networks that provide hundreds and thousands of employees with easy access to highly valuable information, the most dangerous of perpetrators are now sitting in a cubicle row or corner office.

Whether it’s for a little money or a lot, malicious employees have been fleecing their employers for years. Unfortunately, with the recent economic downturn, more white-collar workers might feel that the reward, or the vengeance of stealing from their employer, may outweigh the risk of being caught.

Job losses, plummeting 401[K]s, foreclosures, and fire-sale mergers are taking a financial toll on the best of workers, who feel they have no control over their destiny.

Combine increasing financial stress with easy access to highly valuable corporate data and a multitude of on-line black market outlets that turn information into cash, and you have the perfect recipe for insider cybercrime.

Employees can commit cybercrimes such as fraud, identity theft and theft of intellectual property much faster and easier than un-trusted outsiders.

Never before have so many had so much access to such a wealth of data. When we work as security advisors to our customers, we are increasingly asked for tools and processes to better monitor how trusted users such as employees, consultants, partners, and others are operating on the network.

At the end of the day, you can’t arrest a laptop.

Some people might see this as “Big Brother.” Perhaps surprisingly, however, not only are organizations pushing for this type of monitoring, but so are many employees. In these hard times, an attack on a company could have a direct impact on employees; the company could even go out of business and employees could be out of a job.

Since the damage caused by an insider can be substantially higher than that caused by an outsider, prudence dictates that insider monitoring be put in place for everyone’s protection. Much like a store owner keeps an eye on his inventory and registers, corporations are keeping an eye on their most important asset, information.

Monitoring for malicious insiders isn’t “Big Brother.” It’s smart business, and it helps protect employers as well as their employees.

Reilly is the CEO of the Cupertino, California-based security solutions vendor ArcSight Inc.

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