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Nuclear Safeguards Education Portal
  

Introduction to Insider Threats

Insiders can include anyone with access to sensitive information. (Photo Source: US Department of Labor)
Insiders can include anyone with access to sensitive information. (Photo Source: US Department of Labor) 

We use the term adversary in describing anyone who performs or attempts a malicious act.  Adversaries can be either insiders or outsiders. An insider is an individual within any organization or entity who has or had access to knowledge or authority over sensitive information, materials, or processes. All other adversaries are considered outsiders. An insider may be a trusted current or former employee or someone who is not directly employed by the facility but who has access, like subcontractors, first responders, vendors, inspectors, etc..

Although commonly depicted in Hollywood as a mole with an important position in government or a large international business, an "insider" could include anyone with any kind of access to physical locations or information.  This could include anyone from bank tellers dealing with client accounts to the custodial staff at a nuclear facility.

Insiders are not inherently dangerous.  People are necessary for organizations to function. However, the prevalence of such personnel leaves the organization vulnerable to exploitation through insider threats because these insiders are human, which means they are susceptible to factors and pressures that may cause them to take criminal acts. An insider becomes a potential threat when he or she has the motivation and opportunity to participate in a malicious act.

Insider threats pose one of the greatest challenges to nuclear security.  According the the National Nuclear Security Administration, "almost all known cases of theft of nuclear material involved an insider." (Source: NNSA website)

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