Redefining insider threats: a distinction between insider hazards and insider threats


This article suggests a new definition of insiders and insider threats. It refrains from applying a harm-oriented perspective that concentrates on the insider’s intention to cause harm because it defines the insider threat either too narrow or too broad. Instead, a privilege-oriented perspective is applied that focuses on the insider’s intention to misuse his privileged access to or knowledge about the organizational assets. Because existing privilege-oriented definitions refrain from making an explicit and clear-cut division between intentional and unintentional misuse of privilege, a new conceptualization is suggested that distinguishes insider hazards from insider threats. If the insider unintentionally misuses his insider privilege, it concerns an insider hazard. If the insider intentionally misuses his insider privilege, it is regarded as an insider threat.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Although insiders can be both male or female, we systematically use the male pronoun to refer to the insider instead of always referring to he or she for reasons of text readability.


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Funding was provided by Bel-V, Brussels Airport Company, Elia, Engie-Electrabel, the Federal Agency of Nuclear Control (FANC) and G4S.

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Reveraert, M., Sauer, T. Redefining insider threats: a distinction between insider hazards and insider threats. Secur J (2020).

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  • Insider threat
  • Insider hazard
  • Organizational culture
  • Organizational behavior
  • Security policy
  • Trust