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InFocus: Cyber Risk

Insurance industry ‘uniquely vulnerable’ to cyber attack

Insurance industry ‘uniquely vulnerable’ to cyber attack

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Shreya Kalra
Not only are insurance companies “particularly attractive targets for cyber criminals,” according to a report released by US telecoms operator Verizon this week, they are also “uniquely vulnerable,” the report’s author said.

The company’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report placed the insurance industry in the financial services category, which suffered from 642 security incidents, making it the third most attractive sector to attack behind public and information.

Stephen Busateri, insurance global lead for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, who compiled the insurance aspect of the report, told Insurance Business the insurance industry is “uniquely vulnerable” because the personally identifiable information held by insurers is a “particularly appealing target for cyber criminals.”

Insurance companies, he said, need to be more active in protecting their data because they have sensitive customer data on their systems.

The report said that as more insurance companies use the internet to share data and turn towards working with brokers in adjacent markets, they are “further increasing their attack surface,”

Of all the breaches, 28% were a result of by ‘miscellaneous errors,’ including human errors.

“With policy documents being sent back and forth by email, there is plenty of scope for human error allowing cyber criminals to compromise insurance companies’ systems and install malware,” the report stated.

Verizon listed some steps insurance companies can take to increase their security:
  1. Companies need to fully understand their data, including what data they have, where it’s stored and exactly who has access to it
  2. Set up controls to watch for data transfers out of the organisation
  3. Better educate staff so that they do not enter their credentials on unsafe websites or open attachment from unknown senders
Verizon collected data from 70 organizations worldwide and claimed 2,122 confirmed incidents of data loss had occurred, with an estimated a loss of US$400m from 700 million compromised records.

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Markel's operation in Canada, formerly known as ESR, has been in existence since 1966 and is highly respected for exceptional expertise and service. Built on a reputation of underwriting excellence and product knowledge, it partners with brokers to provide effective solutions for unique commercial liability needs. Markel Canada operates across Canada with offices in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

In October 2009, ESR was purchased by Markel International, a London based specialty property and casualty insurer and reinsurer, and a subsidiary of Markel Corporation, a US-based diverse financial holding company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Markel International has eight operating divisions writing business through Markel Syndicate 3000 or through Markel International Insurance Company Limited and Markel Resseguradora do Brasil S.A.

The strength and specialist expertise of Markel International further improves the ability to assist brokers in solving their customer's needs, thanks to increased proficiencies, greater capacity and a range of new products.