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Looking for a Good Night’s Rest

Robert Regis Hyle | January 26, 2015

A favorite question of journalists—and I admit to using it myself at times—is what keeps people up at night. In our case, the question is normally directed to CIOs and other IT leaders. We usually get a variety of answers, but in the last few years, sometimes without the question even being asked, insurance IT leaders tell us their biggest worry is security.

There are plenty of worries that CIOs face and many are dealt with on a daily basis. Security issues though are largely unseen, much like cancer or other debilitating diseases that creep inside you.

Doctors and health insurers have pushed for early screenings, particularly for those with family histories of various illnesses with the promise that early detection can contain the problem. This also mirrors what IT leaders have learned about security.

Last year, IBM reported the number of security attacks in 2013 increased by 12 percent from the previous year. New numbers for last year aren’t available yet, but does anyone seriously believe the number has gone down? I didn’t think so.

 The costs associated with an attack are staggering and widespread. It is easy enough to add up the costs of forensics and technical support following an attack, but can you place a dollar figure on the loss of a business’s reputation and brand damage?

IBM claims a damaged reputation and brand make up 29 percent of the losses insurers face from a security breach. Do you think there are some CEOs that wish they were operating their father’s insurance company when it comes to challenges like security? Night watchmen were easier to budget.

So what’s an insurance carrier to do these days? Test, test, and test again. Such plans are not cheap and there is no guarantee that what you discover and attempt to correct will be the ultimate answer. Technology has created too many windows into the company and it is nearly impossible to ensure that they are all secure.

At ITA LIVE, the Insurance Technology Association’s first conference in April, the results of some ethical hacking of several insurance carriers, who volunteered for the assignment, will be discussed with Janeen Blanton, of Salient Commercial Solutions, the company that orchestrated the ethical attacks, and ITA advisory board member Tom Dunbar, of XL Group.

It promises to be an informative session and quite scary, not just for the companies that were attacked, but for everyone who knows they could be next and that the attackers won’t be ethical. It’s tough to sleep at night with those kinds of worries.

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