Commercial clients are vulnerable to hidden risks when they have large numbers of people suddenly working remotely or from home in a disaster, as we are seeing in the pandemic, experts told brokers listening in to Canadian Underwriter’s latest webinar.
“I think we have seen unexpected, hidden cyber risks emerge since this new way of living and working has evolved,” said Tim Zeilman, vice president and global owner of products, cyber, for Munich Re’s HSB Group, whose coverages include boiler and machinery coverage.
For example, some workers are on different devices from the computers they normally use at work.
Philomena Comerford, president and chief executive officer, Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP; and president and chief executive officer, Hargraft Schofield LP. Photo: Patrick Thompson
“There are a lot more people doing things from their phones and mobile devices and what we have seen is their behaviour is fundamentally different,” said Zeilman. “They don’t pay as much attention, either based on the circumstances and the level of stress people are feeling, or based on the fact that they are doing things differently. [They may be] reading emails on different devices than they have otherwise been doing. It makes them more vulnerable to falling victim to some of these sort of deception-oriented attacks.”
Philomena Comerford, CEO of Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP & Hargraft Schofield LP, gave some examples of the types of attacks cyber criminals are perpetrating during the pandemic.
“They are trying to draw people in to either hawk fake product or cures – trying to get them to go to what appear to be legitimate sites and unleash malware by mimicking, say, for instance, a university site,” Comerford said this past Wednesday during Business Continuity in the Digital Age Part 2: How COVID-19 can infect your cybersecurity, a webinar hosted by Canadian Underwriter.
“They are really playing on fear a lot,” Comerford said of cyber criminals. “We are getting an uptick in fake Office 365 and Microsoft support password change notifications, Cisco Webex alerts, where they are saying, ‘Your account access will be limited.’ We have just started using Cisco Webex as a communication tool, so we are sending reminders out to our staff.”
Also on the webinar was Eduard Goodman, Global Privacy Officer of CyberScout (which, along with HSB, sponsored the webinar).
“I think it’s that old adage, ‘always be careful when in a rush’ and a lot of people rushed to get this done for obvious reasons – to stay operational,”said Goodman. “We have seen a lot of shortcuts. A lot of small and mid-sized businesses that did not set up a [virtual private network] and are accessing their systems via remote desktop – which is not the most secure manner to do it without any back-end or other types of protections.
“How you are responding to this is going to depend on how prepared you were to begin with. A lot of small and mid- sized businesses have been skipping a lot of steps and, really, convenience over security. That is always something to be careful of.”