This quote is attributed to many. In fact, most people believe it was first said by King David himself. Some attribute to the French philosopher Voltaire, and others to the French marshal Claude Louis Hector de Villars.
Regardless of its true origins, there seems to be a universal truth in this proverb- spotting an incoming enemy is easy, identifying that a friend or family member starts to turn against you is much more difficult. And, In fact, such acts are deemed as “treason” or “betrayal” and we perceive them to be more sinister, morally unjust than a straightforward attack from an adversary (if we are already discussing quotes, then this one attributed to Oscar Wilde is very appropriate- “A good friend will always stab you in the front.”
But what is it about our friends that scares us so much? Well, they know our secrets, our pain points and our defensive mechanism. That’s why a casual remark from a close friend can hurt so much. And it is their ability to hurt us, just in these painful places, that makes them so potentially damaging. And this is why the “insider threat” is so menacing- no matter how good your defensive mechanisms are, how trained your security personnel or how adequate your procedures, an insider can easily bypass them all and deliver a painful blow- corrupt data, steal intellectual property or assist others to penetrate your precious systems.
Statistics prove that many high profile breaches were helped, if not planned and executed, by insiders. Their motivations vary, but their intimate knowledge of the security apparatus makes it nearly impossible to prevent them from achieving their goals. And while technology firms acknowledge this and try to develop methods to restrict their ability to act, we need to bear in mind that an individual with sufficient privileges can always disable the security system which stands in his way…leaving no choice but to rely on meticulous recruiting processes and ongoing employee assessment procedures.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a technology which will tell us who is about to go astray? Oh wait, the insider will be able to manipulate that technology as well, leaving us at square one again. So it seems, that just like in the days of yore, we are left again wanting some divine intervention- only a slightly more modern version of it:” God save me from the insiders. I can protect myself from the hackers”…