Cyber Threats

Health, Higher Ed Most Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

Unpatched software remains a top cyber vulnerability. Low-tech "phishing" attacks continue to succeed.
By: | May 12, 2016 • 4 min read

As cyber risk management comes of age, more data and better analysis are leading to new realizations. One is that health care and higher education are the most vulnerable sectors, followed closely by financial services.


Another is that the vast majority of security breaches could be forestalled using simple measures, such as ensuring all updates and patches to software are installed and tested.

However, studies are starting to show that cheap, low-tech email attacks remain stubbornly effective despite expensive, high-tech protections.

All of those ideas were advanced and detailed at a fast-moving panel discussion May 11 in New York, sponsored by brokerage Crystal & Company.

Actuarial data is still thin in cyber, but Christopher Liu, head of cyber risk in the financial institutions group at AIG, said that “institutions in health care and higher education are the most hazardous classes of insureds. That is because they have the most sensitive information and that there is high turnover. Also, they usually do not have big budgets, so security is often not well supported.”

Christopher Liu, head of cyber risk, financial institutions group, AIG

Christopher Liu, head of cyber risk, financial institutions group, AIG

Financial institutions, especially asset managers, are the second-most hazardous class, Liu added.

“They have the same attractive information, plus they have money.”

Mitigating that, they also tend to have better funded and supported security, and they have heavy government regulation. That both keeps them on their toes, and also means greater external surveillance. Several panel members noted that firms became aware of breaches when regulators noticed unusual activity.

“We find that we deal primarily with three areas,” said Austin Berglas, senior managing director at K2 Intelligence.

“Those are: unpatched vulnerabilities in software, misconfiguration of internal systems, and misplaced trust by employees. We get called in to handle a breach, and 99 percent of the time we find the vulnerability is unpatched.”

Berglas explained that the software companies race each other to send out new versions that often are not completely functional or secure. So they send out patches. “Windows does it every week on ‘patch Tuesday.’ But users don’t have any regular schedule or system for installing and testing patches. We find unpatched vulnerabilities dating back as far as 1999.”

“I have been to meetings of the cyber response team, and everyone in the room is introducing themselves. This is the response team. Everyone in the room has to know everyone in the room.” — John F. Mullen, managing partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

The challenge of unsecured configurations between systems was dramatically demonstrated with the infamous attack on retailer Target, which came through the air-conditioning vendor. But Berglas emphasized the persistent and pernicious problem of simple phishing.

“It is estimated that 30 percent of individuals within a company will open an email, and 13 percent will click on an attachment, even if they have been warned not to,” Berglas warned.

John Mullen, Managing partner of the law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

John Mullen, Managing Partner- Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith

“You spent half a billion dollars on security systems and firewalls, and one click on one phishing email by someone with elevated system privileges, and the bad guys have just defeated your half-billion-dollar defense. Now they are inside, with credentials, and you can’t detect them.”

The quickest and easiest thing that any company can do, “is to look for unpatched vulnerabilities in public-facing systems,” Berglas urged.

On the same theme, John F. Mullen, managing partner of the law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, stressed that “security goes way beyond  IT.

“This is not just about the tech guys. Cyber security tends to get pushed downhill.” And that tends to mean lack of coordination on all fronts.

“I have been to meetings of the cyber response team, and everyone in the room is introducing themselves. This is the response team. Everyone in the room has to know everyone in the room.”

Similarly, “insureds have to know the coverage that they have bought. Is there a mandated forensics group? Outside counsel? If so, go meet with them. If you have options, vet them,” Mullen exhorted.

“You spent half a billion dollars on security systems and firewalls, and one click on one phishing e-mail by someone with elevated system privileges, and the bad guys have just defeated your half-billion-dollar defense.” — Austin Berglas, senior managing director, K2 Intelligence

He expects the cyber insurance business to triple or quadruple in the next five years, in terms of premium spending.

Cycling back to the theme of internal responsibility, Paul Miskovich, senior vice president and global practice leader of cyber and technology errors and omissions coverage at Axis, said that 67 percent of cyber claims presented to his firm involved insider activity of some kind: clicking on a phishing email or failing to install a patch or use a firewall. Further, 25 percent of claims involved third parties such as vendors.


For all the focus on the breach itself, Miskovich added that “regulatory costs can be more than the costs of the breach, especially if you don’t have documentation of your security policies and protocols.” That includes documentation that the policies are in place and are rehearsed.

Noting previous comments that many losses are traced to breaches that have gone undetected for years, Miskovich said that a new area within cyber insurance is full coverage for prior acts.

Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist based in New York with 25 years’ experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected]
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2016 Power Broker

Financial Services

Proactively Enabling Acquisitions

Christopher Cancro Senior Vice President, FINPRO Marsh, New York

Christopher Cancro
Senior Vice President, FINPRO
Marsh, New York

Two of Christopher Cancro’s insurance company clients acquired large peer companies, significantly increasing their respective revenue base and market share. As part of that process, both clients had to integrate coverage for the newly acquired entities into their existing errors and omissions programs.

Cancro was able to negotiate full prior acts coverage for the acquired entities’ E&O for no increase in premium. The key to achieving this result was leveraging the buying power of the new, larger combined entities and adopting a high-disclosure marketing approach that forced the carriers to underwrite the risk on the merits including specific line of business exposure, client loss history and go-forward retentions — rather than simply rely on the fallback response that acquisitions equaled premium.


“Chris is responsive, provides measured advice and shares valuable experience and information,” said a client in the insurance industry. “With his assistance, we renewed and expanded our management liability program in a prudent and cost-effective manner.”

“Chris Cancro is extremely diligent,” said another insurance company client. “He is persistent and tenacious on behalf of his clients and his understanding of products is extremely deep.”

“Chris Cancro is a valued and trusted partner,” said a financial institution client. “He consistently delivers effective and leading-edge solutions for our ever-evolving risk profile.”

Instilling Confidence Among Carriers

Edward Conlon Senior Vice President Aon, New York

Edward Conlon
Senior Vice President
Aon, New York

One of Edward Conlon’s private equity clients received an offer to purchase one of its portfolio companies. However, another party that was suing the PE firm in a securities case filed a temporary restraining order to stop the sale. The PE firm wished to immediately distribute sales proceeds to its limited partners before the trial ended, so Conlon helped create a very large tower insuring against an adverse judgment.

This entailed answering very difficult questions from multiple carriers, convincing them to get over the “blanket denial” of insuring against litigation outcomes by highlighting the best aspects of the risk profile, leveraging relationships for capacity, working through nine rounds of drafting the primary policy, and creating the quota-share manuscript policy from scratch.

The risk transfer permitted his client to monetize its internal rate of return and distribute proceeds to its limited partners without any caveats or holdbacks — and raise a new fund.

“We had a very difficult project and Ed and his team took it on and did not give up until they got it done,” the client said. “They did a great job.”

“Edward Conlon has given us great service,” said another PE client. “We had a really complex transaction, spinning off one division of a company at the same time we were merging with another company, and our risk profile changed. Ed helped prepare us through that, and that helped management through a very complicated process. He brought resources from his firm to help us rethink issues and stretch targets up front.”

Shrewd Strategist

Dennis Gustafson Financial Institutions Practice Leader AHT Insurance, Jersey City, N.J.

Dennis Gustafson
Financial Institutions Practice Leader
AHT Insurance, Jersey City, N.J.

Working with several London syndicates, Dennis Gustafson last year created Bank ExecShield, which offers coverage for civil penalties against bank directors or officers as long as they pay for the coverage themselves. This was in response to regulations stating that such penalties could neither be indemnified by the bank nor covered under the bank’s directors and officers policy.

Gustafson was also able to successfully negotiate a renewal for a client that had a $2.5 million claim. He recommended inviting competing carriers to the underwriter meeting, and after seeing all of the interested parties, the incumbent carrier offered a renewal with a mild rate increase. Gustafson was also able to place a new carrier on the excess layer at enough of a rate decrease to generate an overall flat renewal.

“By drumming up interest from other carriers, this keeps the incumbent carriers very price competitive,” said a bank client.


“Dennis has provided excellent customer service to AmeriNat this past year,” said Adrienne Thorson, chair and chief executive of AmeriNational Community Services. “As we transitioned into a new ownership structure in a very tightly regulated industry, Dennis walked us through step by step what needed to be done to ensure there would be no lapse in coverage.”

“Dennis is a dedicated, passionate, and knowledgeable insurance professional,” said Jeff A. Paolucci, chief financial officer at First Reliance Bank.

A Voyage Across the Pond

James Jackson, ACII Vice President, East Team Leader FINEX Financial Services Practice Willis Towers Watson, New York

James Jackson, ACII
Vice President, East Team Leader FINEX Financial Services Practice
Willis Towers Watson, New York

One of James Jackson’s clients, Aegon, conducted a request for proposals for its global errors and omissions policy placement, inviting three brokers to compete — including Willis Towers Watson, which has been Aegon’s broker since 2004.

As the lead broker and working closely with colleagues in both London and Bermuda, Jackson proposed restructuring the program out of the London market and reducing Aegon’s relatively high retention. The placement had previously been led from the U.S. market, as that’s where Aegon first purchased the policy and believed they had the greatest exposure.

Jackson and his team retained the business as a result of the proposed solutions. The placement was moved to London, incorporating several unique coverage enhancements, such as loss mitigation costs, that were previously unavailable to them. Aegon is now considering two retention options and two quoted towers presented by Jackson.

“We gave him a pretty significant challenge last year, moving a $300 million program from the U.S. to Europe with some 20 different carriers, and he did an amazing job for us,” said Barry White, Aegon’s global insurance manager.

“James Jackson has been extremely knowledgeable, both in relation to the insurance he places for us, as well as understanding us as a company and the risks we face,” said a client in the life insurance and annuity industry.

They Said It Couldn’t Be Done

Georgina Serio, CIC, CRM, CRIS, PS Managing Director Beecher Carlson, Miami

Georgina Serio, CIC, CRM, CRIS, PS
Managing Director
Beecher Carlson, Miami

Georgina Serio obtained regulatory coverage for one bank client that had a consent order in place, after the prior broker proclaimed that it couldn’t be done. Serio was then able to get the client’s executive liability premium reduced by $250,000, and saved the client more than 20 percent in its regular insurance program by including property owned by the bank that was not directly related to its business.

“I met her several years ago when our bank was ‘troubled,’” the client said. “We had been told that the bank could not get regulatory insurance coverage because of its condition. She said, “Come to New York City with me, make a presentation to 12 underwriters and I will get you regulatory coverage.’”

“I did what she asked and she delivered what she promised,” the client said. “Plus she got us kidnap and extortion coverage and cyber coverage without increasing our premiums over the previous year’s cost. At our next renewal, she was able to reduce our cost about $250,000.”


For Pacific National Bank, which was also operating under consent order, Serio not only was able to obtain coverage, but she was also able to reduce the renewal premium by 35 percent.

“Ms. Serio really had to step up to the plate and diligently work with the carriers to ensure she could secure the appropriate coverage under reasonable terms,” said a client.

Attuned to New Solutions

Timothy Sullivan Senior Vice President, Asset Management Industry Leader Willis Towers Watson, Boston

Timothy Sullivan
Senior Vice President, Asset Management Industry Leader
Willis Towers Watson, Boston

One of Timothy Sullivan’s financial services clients was buying a bank. After analyzing all of the exposures, Sullivan aggressively pre-negotiated the additional directors and officers policy premium for the acquisition that would be due upon closing of the transaction. This was on top of achieving a significant reduction in the D&O premium for the client, as well as numerous meaningful coverage enhancements, resulting in overall premium savings.

Sullivan also successfully negotiated the inclusion of prior acts coverage for the acquiring bank under the client’s banker’s professional liability program, at a very competitive cost. Moreover, he was able to successfully secure market leading coverage for his client that no other BPL insurer was willing to offer for a financial services firm of that type and size.

Sullivan was also able to negotiate a comprehensive program for the client’s employment practices liability program using the same Bermuda market as the acquiring bank. The cost savings enabled the client to more than double its limits. Indeed, the client increased limits across all lines of coverage, and Sullivan was able to secure all new layers without the requirement of warranty letters.

“Tim is extraordinarily responsive across all management professional liability lines of coverage,” said Arlene Lasagna, senior vice president, corporate insurance at CIT Group Inc. “He gives meaning to the concept of collaboration.”




Uri Dallal Senior Vice President Aon, New York

Uri Dallal
Senior Vice President
Aon, New York

Stefanie Pearl Senior Vice President Marsh, New York

Stefanie Pearl
Senior Vice President
Marsh, New York

Brian Simons Senior Broker / Team Leader Aon, New York

Brian Simons
Senior Broker / Team Leader
Aon, New York

Tom Delaney Managing Director, Bankers Insurance Service Aon, Chicago

Tom Delaney
Managing Director, Bankers Insurance Service
Aon, Chicago

Agnes B. Suarez Senior Vice President - Financial Lines HUB, San Juan, PR

Agnes B. Suarez
Senior Vice President – Financial Lines
HUB, San Juan, PR






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Sponsored: Liberty International Underwriters

Helping Investment Advisers Hurdle New “Customer First” Government Regulation

The latest fiduciary rulings create challenges for financial advisory firms to stay both compliant and profitable.
By: | May 5, 2016 • 4 min read

This spring, the Department of Labor (DOL) rolled out a set of rule changes likely to raise issues for advisers managing their customers’ retirement investment accounts. In an already challenging compliance environment, the new regulation will push financial advisory firms to adapt their business models to adhere to a higher standard while staying profitable.

The new proposal mandates a fiduciary standard that requires advisers to place a client’s best interests before their own when recommending investments, rather than adhering to a more lenient suitability standard. In addition to increasing compliance costs, this standard also ups the liability risk for advisers.

The rule changes will also disrupt the traditional broker-dealer model by pressuring firms to do away with commissions and move instead to fee-based compensation. Fee-based models remove the incentive to recommend high-cost investments to clients when less expensive, comparable options exist.

“Broker-dealers currently follow a sales distribution model, and the concern driving this shift in compensation structure is that IRAs have been suffering because of the commission factor,” said Richard Haran, who oversees the Financial Institutions book of business for Liberty International Underwriters. “Overall, the fiduciary standard is more difficult to comply with than a suitability standard, and the fee-based model could make it harder to do so in an economical way. Broker dealers may have to change the way they do business.”

Complicating Compliance

SponsoredContent_LIUAs a consequence of the new DOL regulation, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will be forced to respond with its own fiduciary standard which will tighten up their regulations to even the playing field and create consistency for customers seeking investment management.

Because the SEC relies on securities law while the DOL takes guidance from ERISA, there will undoubtedly be nuances between the two new standards, creating compliance confusion for both Registered Investment Advisors  (RIAs)and broker-dealers.

To ensure they adhere to the new structure, “we could see more broker-dealers become RIAs or get dually registered, since advisers already follow a fee-based compensation model,” Haran said. “The result is that there will be likely more RIAs after the regulation passes.”

But RIAs have their own set of challenges awaiting them. The SEC announced it would beef up oversight of investment advisors with more frequent examinations, which historically were few and far between.

“Examiners will focus on individual investments deemed very risky,” said Melanie Rivera, Financial Institutions Underwriter for LIU. “They’ll also be looking more closely at cyber security, as RIAs control private customer information like Social Security numbers and account numbers.”

Demand for Cover

SponsoredContent_LIUIn the face of regulatory uncertainty and increased scrutiny from the SEC, investment managers will need to be sure they have coverage to safeguard them from any oversight or failure to comply exactly with the new standards.

In collaboration with claims experts, underwriters, legal counsel and outside brokers, Liberty International Underwriters revamped older forms for investment adviser professional liability and condensed them into a single form that addresses emerging compliance needs.

The new form for investment management solutions pulls together seven coverages:

  1. Investment Adviser E&O, including a cyber sub-limit
  2. Investment Advisers D&O
  3. Mutual Funds D&O and E&O
  4. Hedge Fund D&O and E&O
  5. Employment Practices Liability
  6. Fiduciary Liability
  7. Service Providers D&O

“A comprehensive solution, like the revamped form provides, will help advisers navigate the new regulatory environment,” Rivera said. “It’s a one-stop shop, allowing clients to bind coverage more efficiently and provide peace of mind.”

Ahead of the Curve

SponsoredContent_LIUThe new form demonstrates how LIU’s best-in class expertise lends itself to the collaborative and innovative approach necessary to anticipate trends and address emerging needs in the marketplace.

“Seeing the pending regulation, we worked internally to assess what the effect would be on our adviser clients, and how we could respond to make the transition as easy as possible,” Haran said. “We believe the new form will not only meet the increased demand for coverage, but actually creates a better product with the introduction of cyber sublimits, which are built into the investment adviser E&O policy.”

The combined form also considers another potential need: cost of correction coverage. Complying with a fiduciary standard could increase the need for this type of cover, which is not currently offered on a consistent basis. LIU’s form will offer cost of correction coverage on a sublimited basis by endorsement.

“We’ve tried to cross product lines and not stay siloed,” Haran said. “Our clients are facing new risks, in a new regulatory environment, and they need a tailored approach. LIU’s history of collaboration and innovation demonstrates that we can provide unique solutions to meet their needs.”

For more information about Liberty International Underwriters’ products for investment managers, visit

Liberty International Underwriters is the marketing name for the broker-distributed specialty lines business operations of Liberty Mutual Insurance. Certain coverage may be provided by a surplus lines insurer. Surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds and insureds are therefore not protected by such funds. This literature is a summary only and does not include all terms, conditions, or exclusions of the coverage described. Please refer to the actual policy issued for complete details of coverage and exclusions.

This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty International Underwriters. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.


LIU is part of the Global Specialty Division of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
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