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Cyber Risk Management Beyond the Firewall

September 1, 2022

Loss severity related to cyberattacks is increasing yearly, thanks in large part to ransomware attacks. That’s why cyber insurance underwriters, when deciding to insure an organization, are looking more closely at what the organization is doing to protect its systems and data.

Most organizations are familiar with preventive steps such as securing firewalls and installing antivirus software to help safeguard their technology systems. However, companies sometimes overlook other types of cyber security measures, such as the following.

Multifactor Authentication

Have you recently logged in to your bank account and then received a text or email asking you to copy and paste a code, answer a security question, or type some other type of secondary information into the login page? That’s multifactor authentication (MFA). It’s a way your authorized system users can remotely log into your environment and prove they are who they say they are. MFA makes it much more difficult for threat actors to remotely log in.

If you don’t have MFA in place, most cyber insurance underwriters are not going to insure you. The risk is simply too great. It’s the equivalent of leaving the doors to your home not only unlocked when you leave for vacation, but also wide open.


Hackers search for software vulnerabilities and use them to launch ransomware attacks or install malware on the organization’s systems. Software vendors issue updates and patches to resolve these product weaknesses as they are discovered.

It is important to install and test software patches promptly when they become available. Failing to make timely updates or install patches is asking for trouble.

Email Filtering and Employee Training

Your well-meaning employees—especially remote employees—are the most vulnerable part of your organization’s network security program, thanks to phishing scams and other types of cyberattacks. The reality is that everybody is busy. All it takes is one click on one bad link, and someone has given away their credentials, which a threat actor can use to enter your network.

Applying strong email filtering programs is important. So is training your employees to identify phishing emails. Supplement the training with phishing testing that praises employees who correctly identify and report a suspected bad email (your test email). Provide further education for those who don’t identify it and instead click on it (e.g., This was a phishing test—a potential scam. Here’s how you could have identified it, and here’s how to avoid that mistake in the future.).

Network Segmentation

If an employee has login credentials to your network, can he or she see everything on your network? If so and a bad actor gains access to your systems through an email phishing scam or another way, your entire cyber environment is now at risk. While there are ways to secure networks, most of the time it’s not necessary for every user to have access to every piece of the environment. Network segmentation can be a powerful tool for protecting your data supply chain and limiting potential damage to your organization’s systems.


If you have sensitive data, whether it’s personally identifiable information, commercial confidential information, or third-party information that you don’t want made public, encrypt it. Encryption is the process of scrambling text or data and making it unreadable by anyone except its owner.

Even if your data is stolen or accessed, encrypted information won’t be viewable by bad actors.

System Backups

To avoid a ransomware situation, it’s important to back up systems thoroughly and frequently. Store information offsite and, if possible, offline. Why offline?

Let’s say you accidentally click a phishing email. Nothing seems to happen, but you’ve given away credentials to a threat actor who’s laying low in the environment, moving laterally, and discovering where your backups are stored. If they are stored on your network, the criminal can encrypt not only your network but also your backups.

Incident Response Plan

These are all good measures, but are they enough? Many business leaders believe they can “prevent” their way out of a cyber risk, that they can manage their risk down to zero. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. So then, what’s left?

Preparation. Creating, testing, and regularly updating a cyber incident response plan can help your company recover more quickly and with less turmoil. If your company has a plan but hasn’t reviewed and tested it in the last few months, we recommend you start immediately.

Final Word on Cyber Risk Management

Have you given your information security team a high-five or pat on the back lately? They have a tough job and don’t get enough thanks or recognition. CEOs and CFOs get to sleep occasionally. CIOs never sleep.

If you or your team has questions about cyber insurance (e.g., how much cyber insurance do you need, what does cyber insurance cost) or cyber risk management from an insurance perspective, contact Hylant.

The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted advisor for insurance-related questions.

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