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The Federal Government and Security Standards Meet at a Dangerous Time

Robert Regis Hyle | October 12, 2015

Like a ticking clock—channel the old Jack Bauer thriller 24—our enemies, some known the majority unknown, are looking at ways to attack us. I’m not talking about nations ready to go to war, but businesses fighting the surge of cybercrime.

An insurance CIO recently told me that his company had successfully watched over his company’s website that has been exposed over 1 billion times to the possibility of cybercrime. That’s an enormous number, but anyone in the business of detecting security threats for an insurance carrier will tell you even 1 out of 1,000,000,000 can be devastating.

In the November issue of ITA Pro, we take a look at security and how insurers and businesses in virtually every industry are examining ways to judge their ability to combat cyber threats. Novarica’s associate vice president of research, Steven Kaye, wisely points out that without metrics, anyone who believes their company is completely secure is clueless about what is going on in the world.

New threats are developing each day and new responses to those threats need to keep pace. Complicating matters is the openness shown by businesses and consumers for new technology features. People are amazed at our “connected world” where a homeowner can suddenly remember he left the lights on in the bedroom and turn them off via a handheld device from miles away.

That is truly amazing, but unless such technology is secure at all entry points, it’s just another way to allow access to your house to someone who can find a way to use your vulnerabilities now or sometime in the future.

A debate is now centering on which metrics are best to judge how secure companies are. Many insurers have been using a set of standards from ISO, which are respected worldwide. But into the fray enters the U.S. government, which, through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has introduced a new security framework. Thanks in large part to its pedigree, many believe the NIST framework eventually will become the standard for insurance and other industries.

Some might feel the federal government is the last place you want to look to for cybersecurity advice, but whether it comes from the government, a private entity such as ISO or any responsible organization, the standards need to be addressed so that all sizes of companies can deal with their possible failings and know what steps to take for a secure future.


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