When the call for businesses to move their operations and their staff to a remote working environment first went out across the UK, many of these organisations faced a variety of challenges when it came to maintaining business continuity. From protecting the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff, to maintaining operational efficiency, to mitigating the increased cyber exposure of a remote working environment, the first weeks of lockdown were a concerning time for many businesses.
During the crucial early weeks of the government shutdown, the head of cyber at Travelers Europe, Davis Kessler (pictured above), spoke with Insurance Business regarding the cyber exposure being faced by remote working businesses and highlighted several ways this could be mitigated. Kessler also emphasised the need for businesses to ensure that their employees have the right protections and awareness of how to limit their cyber exposure.
Now, with the lockdown easing and businesses throughout the UK moving or planning a move back to their physical premises, the question is how employees can and should protect themselves and be protected when returning to work. Kessler noted that, while it is too early to know how valid a concern this might be, having spoken with some of Travelers’ experts in the IT forensic space, there is some unease regarding how laptops and mobile phones which have been used on less secure networks, such as home Wi-Fi systems, could be more susceptible to being infected.
“The concern here is that the cyber criminals are waiting because there is less value in encrypting one terminal, or one employee’s laptop, rather than waiting for that employee to go back into the office and plug into the overall network, which would cross-infect the network at large. As a concern, this is more a theory at the moment and time will tell whether that proves to be true.”
Associate cyber underwriter at Travelers Europe, Iveren Yongo (pictured right), highlighted that a pressing consideration at this time should be those businesses and individuals who are debating working from home indefinitely. There has been talk of some firms looking to move to permanent working from home measures, she said, and to avail of the cost-saving opportunities this affords.
“This could have long-term implications on cyber insurance,” she said. “For us, we may have to think about what kind of questions we might want to be asking in the future if it’s going to become the new normal that companies won’t have office space and will work from home completely.”
Lisa Farr (pictured below), cyber underwriter at Travelers Europe, said that the COVID-19 crisis has raised new levels of awareness within organisations for the need for cyber security coverage. At the beginning of the lockdown, she said, there were some concerns that enquiries might start to dry up but, in fact, the very opposite has happened.
“I think this has opened a lot of business’s eyes now to the fact that they have got staff working remotely and possibly from their own devices,” Farr said. “They’re really starting to think about what implications that might have on their businesses. Even when people do go back, I don’t see everyone going back five days a week, at least not for the first several months, so, the cyber risk is still there.”
These considerations are prompting new conversations between Travelers and its broker partners, the latter of which are striving to ensure that they are keeping their clients up-to-date with the latest information regarding cyber exposures. Farr noted that brokers are looking for information regarding firewalls and employees’ own devices, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) security and the remote activation of devices. These are conversations which have always happened but which are becoming more prevalent as cyber security awareness increases due to the COVID-19 crisis and due to the fact that so many employees are now working from home.
With regards to Travelers’ broker partners, Kessler emphasised the importance of these businesses understanding what cyber coverages do, and how they are designed to address the exposures that are very real and hitting firms on a frequent basis. Travelers has put a lot of effort into creating collateral that helps brokers first to understand these policies themselves, he said, and then be in a better position to explain them to their clients.
“And that at the same time,” Kessler said, “clients should [be made aware of] the limitations of other insurance policies. So, you may think that you’re covered, because you have an add-on to another package policy, for example, but that won’t be as broad. So [the key is] knowing your exposures, knowing what your current coverage is and what limitations there are, and knowing what a full dedicated cyber policy could do.”
You can find out more about the range of products and services that Travelers Europe has on offer here.