Smarter Hiring: Reducing the Insider Threat

By trying to save a few bucks by not conducting an employee background check, you might have just hired a criminal.

Organizations of all types and sizes require a safe environment for employees and customers. In no place is this more critical than schools, universities and hospitals; institutions whose entire mission and livelihood depends on providing a safe and nurturing environment for students, patients and visitors, as well as faculty and staff. It really begins with who you hire and place in a position of trust.

Yet, at the same time, today’s economic climate is requiring everyone to control costs. Budgets are being slashed, and everyone is expected to accomplish more with less. This often leads to the cutting of corners, and mistakes can occur. Hiring, like other business processes, is not immune to this. After all, the wrong candidate in the wrong position can prove disastrous for an institution’s reputation… and to the career of the person doing the hiring.

Delaying Background Checks Can Cost You
Unfortunately, when it comes to hiring new employees, background checks and due diligence are among the first items to get cut when money is tight.

Background screening seems like common sense, and it is. However, sometimes an organization will delay a thorough background check on a candidate in order to see how he or she will function on the job first, particularly in positions where there is a higher turnover rate and more background checks are required. Then again, some forego the screening process entirely, or perform a cursory investigation in hopes that things will just work out.

These scenarios hold potentially terrible consequences and can expose an organization to far greater losses than the initial cost of conducting thorough background checks.

For instance, last summer, one organization avoided a disaster when officials arrested one of its contracted employees. The employee was planning to deploy a denial-of-service attack, which would have resulted in the collapse of the organization’s entire IT network by overwhelming it with so many requests that it would shut down. He boasted about this attack online, which led to his arrest. A typical background check of this individual before he was hired would have exposed his questionable past as an active member of the hacker community.

The fact is, the person in question sought employment with the organization knowing that the position would allow him access to the network he wanted to exploit. This is not only a tactic used by individuals; criminal groups actively recruit and try to place members of their organizations in such positions in order to gain access to a facility and conduct illegal activities.

This incident is not unique and is a clear example of what can happen when an organization doesn’t take the time to investigate who it plans to trust with its assets. When critical resources are at stake – such as students, patients, visitors, faculty, data and facilities – taking the time to properly vet hires can go a long way towards ensuring a safe atmosphere. The spectrum of potential threats that can be invited onto a campus is broad: from molesters to thieves to cybercriminals. Make no mistake, criminals are out there and constantly seeking the path of least resistance to achieve their malicious goals.

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