Advisen FPN

Advisen Cyber FPN - Friday, August 27, 2021

Insurers at the table as Pres. Biden issues 'call to action' on cyber threats


Insurers at the table as Pres. Biden issues 'call to action' on cyber threats

By Erin Ayers, Advisen

Leaders from across the insurance, financial, technology, and education sectors gathered at a White House summit to discuss immediate next steps in the war against escalating cyberattacks against the nation’s businesses.

CEOs from Travelers, Coalition, Resilience, and Vantage Group Holdings represented the insurance industry at the event, joined by executives from Microsoft, Apple, Google, ADP, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and more.

“The President recognizes that the escalating cyber threats we face require a whole-of-nation effort, and this meeting will highlight the scope of the challenge we face, but also the opportunities.  So, it’s really a call to action,” said a senior government official during a background press briefing the day before the Aug. 25 summit.

The event followed “loud and clear” calls from attorneys general around the country to address the growing number of ransomware events targeting cities, towns, and organizations of all sizes, according to the official. Critical infrastructure resilience was set to be a key topic of discussion, along with the need to build a cybersecurity workforce and to boost better cybersecurity practices among businesses.

“The reality is most of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden said in public comments before the private hearing. “You have the power, capacity and responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity. Ultimately we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

While cybersecurity and preventing rampant attacks against the nation’s infrastructure and businesses have been a priority for the Biden Administration, this event marks one of the first with a focus on insurance. During the press briefing, the official stated the White House has high hopes for the industry's participation, noting, “We really see insurance as a way to drive better cybersecurity practices.”

They added, “Insurance motivates us to do good practices, you know, whether it’s safe driving, …  or a smoke detector in our homes.  And we’re trying to brainstorm and say, ‘Can insurance motivate companies, you know, to do what they need to do, in terms of cyber hygiene?’”

Post-event, insurance executives were optimistic the industry can make a difference.

“The fact that there was a panel dedicated to ‘Building Enduring Cybersecurity’ that brought technology firms and insurance firms together indicates that the government sees the critical role insurance will play,” said Joshua Motta, CEO and co-founder of Coalition.

He added, “We’re honored to work with President Biden, the government, and other private sector leaders to tackle our nation’s cybersecurity challenges head on. As the threats from ransomware and other cyber crimes accelerate, small and midsize businesses can’t be left to fend for themselves. It takes a broad combination of accessible technology and aligned incentives to keep these companies safe.”

According to Vishaal Hariprasad, CEO and co-founder of Resilience, the private sector “is well positioned to offer expertise, and to evolve processes that will further improve cybersecurity.”

He added, "We want our companies to be stronger, more cyber resilient, when partnered with us. If our clients get hit, the insurance pays that loss. Our client’s cyber risk is our cyber risk."

The summit attendees made commitments to cybersecurity going forward. Microsoft said it would pledge $20 billion over the next five years to cybersecurity efforts, as well as dedicate $150 million to helping cities and towns keep their security systems updated.

Resilience will require all cyber insurance policyholders to meet best practice standards as a condition of coverage, Hariprasad said.

Travelers Chairman and CEO Alan Schnitzer announced his firm will assist the National Institute of Standards and Technology in developing a new cybersecurity framework focused on improving technology supply chains.

"Ultimately, the victims of cybercrime are people – employees, customers and owners of businesses small and large, in every corner of the nation. Protecting their interests must be a priority, and I look forward to continuing to partner with the Administration and my colleagues who gathered today to do just that," Schitzer said in a statement.

Editor Erin Ayers can be reached at