Sorting Insiders From Co-Workers: Remote Synchronous Computer-Mediated Triage for Investigating Insider Attacks

Dando, Coral J., Taylor, Paul J., Menacere, Tarek, Ormerod, Thomas C., Ball, Linden orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5099-0124 and Sandham, Alexandra L. (2022) Sorting Insiders From Co-Workers: Remote Synchronous Computer-Mediated Triage for Investigating Insider Attacks. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society . ISSN 0018-7208

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Objective Develop and investigate the potential of a remote, computer-mediated and synchronous text-based triage, which we refer to as InSort, for quickly highlighting persons of interest after an insider attack. Background Insiders maliciously exploit legitimate access to impair the confidentiality and integrity of organizations. The globalisation of organisations and advancement of information technology means employees are often dispersed across national and international sites, working around the clock, often remotely. Hence, investigating insider attacks is challenging. However, the cognitive demands associated with masking insider activity offer opportunities. Drawing on cognitive approaches to deception and understanding of deception-conveying features in textual responses, we developed InSort, a remote computer-mediated triage. Method During a 6-hour immersive simulation, participants worked in teams, examining password protected, security sensitive databases and exchanging information during an organized crime investigation. Twenty-five percent were covertly incentivized to act as an ‘insider’ by providing information to a provocateur. Results Responses to InSort questioning revealed insiders took longer to answer investigation relevant questions, provided impoverished responses, and their answers were less consistent with known evidence about their behaviours than co-workers. Conclusion Findings demonstrate InSort has potential to expedite information gathering and investigative processes following an insider attack. Application InSort is appropriate for application by non-specialist investigators and can be quickly altered as a function of both environment and event. InSort offers a clearly defined, well specified, approach for use across insider incidents, and highlights the potential of technology for supporting complex time critical investigations.

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