Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
August 29, 2023


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

British Museum thefts put spotlight on the insider threat

The dangers of the insider threat to security have once again been put in the spotlight, following the revelation that close to 2,000 artefacts have been stolen from the British Museum by a serving member of staff.

BritishMuseum-HeritageSite-23Some of the artefacts reportedly date back more than two millennia, and include gold jewellery and gems. The majority of items were kept in a storeroom and weren’t on public display.

While values for the items are thought to be worth millions of pounds, commentators have also pointed to the long-term reputational damage to one of the UK’s largest tourist attractions.

The museum has admitted that the artefacts taken are considered to be “missing, stolen and damaged”.

An independent security review has been set up, to be led by Nigel Boardman, a former trustee of the museum, and Lucy D’Orsi, the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police. The review is expected to make “recommendations on future security arrangements”.

Reports indicate that a member of staff within the museum is to blame, having been able to remove artefacts from the collection without detection – many may not have been properly catalogued on a digital database.

Peter Higgs, an expert in antiquities at the museum, has since been sacked and is under investigation, though no arrests have been made. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Security policy review required to combat further insider threat activity?

A former member of staff has since spoken to The Independent, claiming that the British Museum “really does need to review its security policy”.

The spokesperson pointed towards “spotty” cataloguing, a lack of monitoring of stores and accountability of access control.

They also highlighted the low pay levels for staff.

Several of these issues raised point towards key motivations for insider threat actors. Low pay is likely to result in disgruntled employees, while poor security processes and accountability increase the risk of staff members believing a malicious act is possible without reprimand.

The UK’s National Protective Security Authority (NPSA), formerly known as CPNI, provides advice on the matter and has developed a Personnel Security Maturity Model.

Additional research into what motivates the insider threat found several reasons, though financial gain is thought to be the clear factor behind 47% of cases.

Further reading: Why the insider threat will motivate cyber and physical teams to collaborate more than ever


Related Topics

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments