Artificial Intelligence

How Cybersecurity is the backbone of every insurance company

There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen ~ Vladimir Lenin.

Last year catapulted digitalization to the top priority list for many companies across the globe. The digital revolution in India disrupted the business environment in all industries, and the Insurance Industry is no exception.

Technological advancements have remodelled the way how businesses are operating in the insurance sector. Digitalization often promises to better serve customers by adding additional product design capabilities, claims management, strategy, marketing, and human resources. I agree with Steve Jobs’ statement, “You have got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology”.

With Digitalization came enhanced efficiency and reduced cost of transacting business, and many insurers went on their way to adopting new technologies that make the process customer-centric. Increasing focus on moving customer interactions to digital channels means that cybersecurity discipline is more important than ever. Cyber risks are among the top issues that businesses must consider for resilience and continuity planning.

In order to keep customer data safe, it is imperative that we stay abreast of what is happening in the world of cybersecurity. Amidst the current political climate, cybersecurity is on our minds now more than ever. The increased need for compliance has prompted the development of data protection that makes it easier for us to use various security tools to build defense-in-depth security. Organisations are encouraging acceptable data practices and retaining customer trust in the insurance business.

The approach that the insurance industry should adapt to keep themselves and their customers safe should involve implementing a robust data strategy that improves data management across the entire organization by making data security part of a company’s culture.

Instead of treating regulations as a mere compliance task, organizations have welcomed the newly introduced regulations as a great opportunity to win customer trust and gain competitive advantages. Organizations have undertaken a collaborative, risk-based data privacy practice that aligns with industry best practices, customer demands, and regulatory requirements.

Five key areas that the insurance industry should focus on – Ownership, capabilities, awareness, organization and preparedness.

Ownership – Establish role-based access and ownership to only authorized personnel across the organization.

Capabilities – The need of the hour is to rethink the existing Information security strategies and shift the focus from securing the network to securing the data itself.

Awareness – By some industry estimates, nearly half of all breaches involve human error and negligence. Most cyber-attacks can be prevented only when employees know how to spot them by raising awareness through good acceptable practices.

Organization –IT security teams across organizations need to assess potential cybersecurity risks regularly. Protect what matters, where it matters – Data is the new perimeter.

Preparedness – Ensuring that all data is backed up and readily available can determine whether an organization swims or sinks after a breach. Get defensive of your data by implementing a business continuity plan and carrying our periodic assessments. If cybersecurity strategies aren’t a top priority in your company, it may be your greatest liability.

Recent news stories about the change in WhatsApp privacy policy have shed light on the risks of data being collected and used in ways we might not expect or approve. The Indian government has also written to WhatsApp to respect the Privacy and Data security of Indian citizens to ensure their interest is not compromised. Draft Indian Privacy Bill has been referred to a joint selection committee of the Parliament for further review and is expected to be tabled in the forthcoming budget session. Unlike Europe, the United States, Japan, Australia, which has a robust General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Act on Protection of Personal Information (APPI), Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) respectively treats the safety of its users’ data diligently.

Cybersecurity is indeed the backbone of a successful digital transformation in the insurance industry. Security and Customer trust are a crucial part of the Data protection program. Insurers must balance customer desires for a personalized, seamless experience, with the increasing call to treat their data with dignity and with the same respect afforded to it as a fundamental human right.

By Kiran Belsekar, Chief Information Security Officer, Aegon Life Insurance

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