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Minformation; the new threat to Insider threat detection

by Avivah Litan  |  November 8, 2016  |  Comments Off on Minformation; the new threat to Insider threat detection

I just returned from a FITSI federal government information security conference where I spoke about insider threats.  A forensics expert in the audience asked one of the most provocative questions I’ve heard on this issue – what happens if an insider threat detection system falsely accuses an insider of a crime? This of course is something we should expect given the frequent occurrences of false positives in most detection systems.

And what if this false alert/identification was generated because of intentional manipulation of information considered to be evidence? This forensic expert said he recently worked on a case where an employee was falsely accused of perpetrating insider theft. A key piece of evidence was an email purported to be sent from this employee’s account which proved the crime and the insider’s malicious intent.

It turns out it was a ‘fake’ planted email which the forensic investigator eventually proved was never sent from the employee’s account. But the case still had to be resolved in a costly trial in a court of law.

The Russians are reportedly engaged in an active deterministic misinformation campaign in the United States  (See Newsweek article on Russia misinformation campaign ), and we should expect other nation states and other bad actors to follow suit if they haven’t already.   These misinformation campaigns will no doubt be used to implicate innocent insiders —  in many cases to cover up those insiders who really commit harmful crimes against their employers.

Our detection analytics are only as good as the information that’s ingested. These days, there is so much misinformation out there that we must assume hard facts can be manipulated or hidden.  Without them, we can’t get to the truth – whether it’s for a forensic investigation, insider threat detection, or any other situation that needs to be assessed.

Information integrity is essential to insider threat detection. Easier said than done.




Avivah Litan
VP Distinguished Analyst
12 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

Avivah Litan is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst in Gartner Research. Her area of expertise includes financial fraud, authentication, access management, identity proofing, identity theft, fraud detection and prevention applications…Read Full Bio

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