Insider Threat Awareness Month: The Crucial Role of Bystander Engagement

Introducing: Insider Threat Awareness Month

September marks the annual National Insider Threat Awareness Month (NITAM). NITAM is a campaign that aims to educate both government and industry about the risks posed by insider threats. Initiated in 2019, NITAM has grown to become a global campaign, involving thousands of security professionals and policymakers from 25 countries. This year, the focus is on bystander engagement, a theme that emphasises the importance of individual awareness and action in mitigating insider threats.

The Importance of NITAM

The campaign is organised by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, the National Insider Threat Task Force, and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). It provides serves as a platform for stakeholder organisations to build upon previous successes and expand the campaign’s impact. Participating organisations focus on increasing awareness and promoting the reporting of insider threats across their workforces.

What is Bystander Engagement?

This year’s theme, bystander engagement, revolves around the concept of an engaged bystander—an individual who is aware of concerning behaviours within an organisation and knows how to act upon those concerns. Thus, unlike passive observers, engaged bystanders take proactive steps to report or intervene when they notice suspicious activities, thereby playing a crucial role in preventing potential insider threats.

Why Bystander Engagement Matters

  • Early Intervention: Engaged bystanders can act as an early warning system. They can identify potential threats before they escalate, providing a first line of defense.
  • Fostering a Culture of Responsibility: Moreover, when employees know how to act on their concerns, it fosters a culture of collective responsibility and vigilance.
  • Enhanced Reporting: Furthermore, awareness and engagement lead to increased reporting, which is vital for effective threat management.
Insider Threat Awareness Month

How to Promote Bystander Engagement

  • Training Programs: Firstly, organisations should educate employees on how to identify and report concerning behaviours.
  • Clear Reporting Channels: Secondly, establishing straightforward and confidential channels for reporting is essential. 
  • Insider Risk Programme: Lastly, implementing a comprehensive Insider Risk Programme is crucial. Such a programme should include continuous monitoring, behavioural analytics, and regular audits to identify and mitigate potential insider threats effectively.


National Insider Threat Awareness Month serves as a timely reminder of the ongoing risks posed by insider threats. The focus on bystander engagement for this year’s campaign highlights the critical role each individual plays in creating a secure and resilient organisation. By fostering a culture of awareness and responsibility, organisations can significantly mitigate the risks associated with insider threats.

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