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An Insider Threat Indicator Ontology

May 2016 Technical Report
Daniel L. Costa, Michael J. Albrethsen, Matthew L. Collins, Samuel J. Perl, George Silowash, Derrick Spooner

This report presents an ontology for insider threat indicators, describes how the ontology was developed, and outlines the process by which it was validated.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



The insider threat community currently lacks a standardized method of expression for indicators of potential malicious insider activity. We believe that communicating potential indicators of malicious insider activity in a consistent and commonly accepted language will allow insider threat programs to implement more effective controls through an increase in collaboration and information sharing with other insider threat teams. In this report, we present an ontology for insider threat indicators. We make the case for using an ontology to fill the stated gap in the insider threat community. We also describe the semi-automated, data-driven development of the ontology, as well as the process by which the ontology was validated. In the appendices, we provide the ontology’s user’s manual and technical specification.