National Insider Threat Awareness Month (NITAM) is an annual event taking place in September. First held in 2019, its purpose is to educate both government and industry sectors about the dangers of those threats and the importance of programs to deal with the issue. Insider Threat Programs. 

This year, NITAM 2023 focuses on the theme of the Bystander Effect. An engaged bystander is an individual who is aware of concerning behaviors and knows how to act on those concerns. The sessions are available here mainly on insider threat prevention and how to boost bystander engagement – in other words, how to get people to speak up. 

“Insider threats continue to pose serious risks to our national security as well as to government and industry organizations nationwide,” said National Counterintelligence and Security Center  Executive Director Mirriam-Grace MacIntyre. “Bystander engagement is critical to helping organizations detect and mitigate such threats before harm occurs. When we witness concerning behaviors in the workplace – whether it’s a security violation or a situation that could escalate into violence — we can’t afford to ignore it. Through training and awareness programs, organizations should ensure their employees know what to report and to whom in order to mitigate potential threats early.”

The NITAM 2023 campaign urges government and industry personnel to identify and report concerning behaviors promptly. This proactive approach facilitates early intervention and ensures that individuals at risk receive the necessary support and resources when needed.

Recent incidents have underscored the damage that can be caused by insider threats. In August 2023, two active-duty U.S. Navy members were arrested in California, each accused of transmitting sensitive U.S. military information to intelligence officers from the People’s Republic of China. In June 2023, a former FBI analyst in Kansas City received a 46-month federal prison sentence for unlawfully retaining documents related to national defense at her residence. Many other instances have occurred just this year, as outlined here

According to Steve Santamaria, the CEO at Folio Photonics, an enterprise-scale, immutable active archive solution provider, NITAM goes beyond raising awareness and promotes effective mitigation strategies, such as the use of an active archive. Unlike traditional archival systems, an active archive offers efficient and secure data storage with quick access. For insider threat prevention, an immutable active archive is particularly valuable. It maintains data integrity, records interactions, deters malicious insider actions, aids in forensics during security breaches, and ensures compliance with regulations. Real-time monitoring further enhances its effectiveness by promptly identifying unauthorized activities.

“NITAM stands as an annual rallying cry—a time to renew our commitment to cybersecurity and acknowledge that, while trust is invaluable, preparedness is non-negotiable,” Santamaria told SD Times. 

ITPMO is currently hosting one-hour panel discussions on Wednesdays through the end of the month, offering both hybrid MS Teams and in-person sessions at DOE Headquarters-Forrestal Building aimed at defense and industry security professionals.