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Technology for Isolation Alleviation

The corona outbreak has illustrated just how important technology is in our lives. Whether it’s allowing you to work from home, stay in touch with loved ones that you can’t be with, or keeping you fit when you can’t make it to a gym – technology is so essential to the human experience – now more than ever.

CFC receives a variety of tech risks from start-ups to SMEs, but there’s certainly been an influx as we all grapple with life in lock-down.

Here are some of the tech risks CFS is seeing which seem to have particular relevance in a COVID era:

Checkout-less shopping

Maintaining social distancing while in your local supermarket is a tough call at the moment, but some retailers are using artificial intelligence to operate stores without checkouts, so there’s no more queuing and no unnecessary groups of people! With onsite cameras, cloud services and sensor technology, all you need to do is download the app, scan in, grab those essentials and walk out!

Digital events for seniors

Borne out of the awareness that isolation can be especially tough for seniors who may already live a relatively solitary life, this app hosts digital events for elderly people. The app is helping to combat the loneliness epidemic with book clubs, regular religious and worship events and yoga – the perfect way for the elderly to stay connected during social distancing.

Social gaming

What better time to become a gamer?! eSports is becoming the fastest growing form of entertainment in the world, with over 550M viewers expected industry-wide by 2021!  This games developer is creating titles across a multitude of platforms including augmented reality, virtual reality, consoles, mobile, PCs, and interactive television.

Internet discovery platform

A new way to share content with friends and strangers – this platform finds the internet’s hidden gems using in-depth machine learning. Move over annoying algorithms that forever show you dog photos after that one accidental click! The platform recommends content (for example recipes, decorating, astrology, fitness) that the user may like due to their chosen interests, it also allows the user to save and share their favourite finds for others to discover. Browse corners of the internet the usual social platforms skip over – or let other users do the work for you!

Treasure hunt

This business is diversifying its proposition for 2020’s stay home world. Usually this tech company offers an augmented reality application that enables the user to go on treasure hunts around public spaces. With public engagement on hold, they’re providing fun adventures to play among family and friends in the form of escape rooms. Users are tasked with finding hidden codes, perform fun tasks and solve riddles. This should keep the kids busy for a little while!

Fitness from home

The gym may be closed, but no one wants to walk out of lock-down twice the human they walked in!  Now is the perfect time to try some new fitness regimes.  This app is packed full of instructional videos for yoga, HIIT, barre and quick 7-minute fitness work outs. Let’s get physical!

Sports engagement for kids

Using the app, kids can learn, practice and develop new sports skills. The app is designed to inspire youth with a virtual coaching and engagement platform. App users can also upload videos of themselves performing the skills for other children to learn from.

We will see some amazing new technology emerge as a consequence of the coronavirus era, as technology continues to respond to our changing lives.

Source: www.cfcunderwriting.com


Biotech Exposures During the Research & Development Life-cycle

There are many types of life science companies involved in the research and development (R&D) of new drugs and medical devices, but they generally fall into two camps, biotechnology firms that develop the drug or device, and service organizations who help bring those products to market.

The exposures that biotechs and service organizations face will evolve throughout the R&D process, and how quickly each company moves through this journey will depend on their individual product but can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.

CFC has outlined the phases of the R&D process to help you talk to your life science clients about the key exposures they face as they discover, develop and test their products.

Click here to download the full infographic below.

Source: www.cfcunderwriting.com

 


What Can We Expect as Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19?

COVID-19 has the world’s most powerful nations in its grip, and as an increasing number of countries start to fight back, the economic impact of this novel virus is starting to compound. But what can we expect to see from the manufacturing sector as the battle rages on, and how might these responses affect risk in the future?

Panic buying drives demand and transforms business models

The increase in demand for non-perishable food products has now risen above typical Christmas levels, causing a significant knock-on effect on supply chains. Many manufacturers are now working at full capacity, having hired additional staff to help in the production of record numbers of products. For some companies, business models have been hugely affected. In their efforts to get products to consumers quickly, many have found themselves dramatically altering the way they work.

Recent changes in production methods could even bring new exposures for some companies, in terms of the increased risk of unsafe products, or products which might not meet strict quality guidelines.

Coronavirus spending patterns impact contract manufacturers

New trends in buying patterns have led to a shift in the prioritization of the products many retailers distribute. Amazon recently began prioritizing essential household items in its warehouses, meaning longer waits for those ordering non-essential items. Demand for luxury products has fallen as a result of the coronavirus, and many brands are limiting production as a result. However, as the world begins to acclimatize to its new normal, we could well see an increase in the uptake of luxury products, strengthened by this limited availability.

Lockdown and the domino effect

Many nations are in lockdown, and huge restrictions have been placed on businesses all over the world. The domino effect of these lockdown measures is set to become one of the biggest challenges of the coronavirus. A single lockdown can have a huge impact on an entire supply chain, inevitably threatening business continuity and perhaps even leading to insolvency for some.

Staff illness and isolation measures

With growing numbers of the workforce being diagnosed, it’s only a matter of time until key quality assurance staff are taken away from the front lines of operations in order to self-isolate. In terms of risk, this could spell trouble for manufacturing businesses.

Joseph Bermudez, a lawyer specializing in crisis management at Stewart Smith Law explains, “colleagues will substitute in and may inadvertently cause contamination, mislabeling, or manufacturing defect issue”.

Social distancing may slow distribution

Safe social distancing measures are making deliveries more difficult. Drivers and workers accepting goods are reluctant to get too close to one another, and as this continues it could cause additional time lags in the restocking of supplies. There might come a time where individual staff members at stores are permitted to accept deliveries only when wearing the correct personal protective equipment. Distributors too might start to put the pressure on stores to provide such equipment.

The effects of import and delivery restrictions

Significant restrictions have already been placed on the movement of individuals. We start to see these restrictions extended to foreign trade, making it more difficult, and more expensive, to import or export goods. Should countries face food shortages, we can expect manufacturers and distributors to focus their efforts on their own domestic markets. Any increases in expense or logistical challenges associated with supplying other nations could well add to their reluctance to supply other markets.

If shortages do begin to affect food availability, we might also see price increases, and a reduction in the variety of products available, as manufacturers turn their attention to maximising output as quickly as possible.

What does the future hold for manufacturers?

Sadly, none of us can say with any certainty what’s in store for businesses in the near, and more distant, future. The world’s response to COVID-19 has been dramatic, with many countries introducing increasingly draconian measures to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. But as more and more restrictions are introduced, the timeframe in which we might see a return to normality grows longer.

In the short term, business risk hasn’t changed. Yet the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses are likely to be far-reaching. And the impact on all of us, as individuals, may well be just as significant.

Source: www.cfcunderwriting.com


Liability Concerns from Working Remotely

As COVID-19 disrupts our economy, it’s been remarkable to watch how different businesses adapt to the new normal. Across the board, companies have been arranging their workforce for full-time remote work. These changes have been implemented with impressive efficiency, yet there are still significant areas to watch out for in terms of increased liability that comes along with a remote workforce.

  • Privacy concerns. Does your virtual meeting software of choice track whether users are “paying attention” or not? Some programs will do this by informing the organizer when certain viewers don’t have the meeting or presentation in full screen for a certain amount of time. What about the data that the attendees are generating by using the software—is it being sent to any third parties for data mining? Are “private” chats being monitored?
  • Cyber risks. Bad actors are already tying phishing and other types of messages to COVID-19 in order to entice clicks. For example, some phishing messages are even impersonating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization and offering “help” or “important updates” so that the reader clicks through. Is your workforce trained on how to resist these kinds of traps? Do all employees know to use private, secured Wi-Fi networks while working remotely? Have information technology business continuity plans been tested recently?
  • Wage and hour exposures. Adjusting to remote work can make some routine timekeeping tasks more difficult. If you have workers that usually clock in and out in the office or at a worksite, are they set up to do this easily at home now? Do they know to still record their breaks as they would if they were in the office? When appropriate, are they being reimbursed for reasonable expenses that come along with working remotely?
  • Workers compensation adjustments. When employees switch to working from home, some workers compensation insurers may want to change insureds’ classification codes.

For additional resources, visit IRMI’s frequently updated page that compiles several free online resources related to COVID-19.

Source: www.irmi.com


Remote Working Vulnerabilities Hit School Hard

The CFC case study below explains how hackers accessed a school’s systems through remote desktop protocol and held data to ransom.

The education sector is no exception to the massive technological changes that have occurred over the past 20 years or so. Schools in particular are now increasingly dependent on their computer systems to provide students with a 21st century education. Both teachers and students now regularly make use of computer technology in the classroom, whether that be through delivering PowerPoint presentations on interactive whiteboards, conducting interactive learning on tablets and laptops, completing online assessments and tests, or using software programs for compiling student grades and monitoring classroom attendance. Schools are also seeing a shift away from paper filing and are storing more and more of their important data in an electronic format.

Although the use of computer technology has undoubtedly brought many benefits to schools, their increasing dependence on computer systems and electronic databases also makes them vulnerable to cyber losses. If teachers and staff are unable to gain access to their computers, whether that be as a result of a malicious cyber attack or a non-malicious system failure, it can result in serious operational disruption for the school. And if a hacker gains access to sensitive electronic data held by the school, it could have a negative impact on the school in terms of both its finances and its reputation.

One of CFC policyholders affected by a cyber loss was a private school responsible for educating approximately 800 students aged 11-18, with the school catering for both day and boarding students.

The incident began when a hacker managed to gain access to the school’s computer systems through the remote desktop protocol (RDP). RDP allows remote users to connect to the desktop of another computer through a network connection and is typically used by schools to allow staff and students to access their networks whilst they are not on school premises. In this case, the port that the school used for RDP access was exposed directly to the internet. Hackers are constantly using scanning tools to identify vulnerable organizations and establish any weak points that they may have in their cyber security, and an RDP port that is exposed directly to the internet is one of the most common that they look out for.

Having identified this area of weakness, the hacker looked to gain access to the school’s network by initiating a brute force attack against a local administrator account. A brute force attack is where a hacker uses a computer program to crack passwords by trying numerous possible password combinations in rapid succession, with the program typically trying a long list of the most commonly used passwords. Generally speaking, the longer and more complex the password, the more difficult and time consuming it is for the program to crack. Unfortunately, however, the school’s local administrator account had a weak password in place that had been used as a default but never been changed. With the password lacking in complexity, the program quickly cracked the password. What’s more, the school did not have multi-factor authentication enabled for RDP access, so as soon as the password was cracked, the hacker was able to gain access to the school’s network without having to go through a second verification procedure.

Upon gaining access, the hacker took the opportunity to unleash ransomware across the school’s computer systems. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that works by encrypting data on a network, and then demands that a ransom be paid in exchange for a decryption key to regain access to the data. In this case, the ransomware had encrypted multiple servers, effectively locking the school out of its computer systems, and the hacker demanded a payment of 2 bitcoin for the decryption key. In many cases, it’s possible to mitigate ransomware attacks by recovering from back-up. However, the school’s back-ups were contained on one of the servers encrypted by the ransomware, rendering them useless.

Fortunately for the school, the ransomware attack occurred over the course of a school holiday, but without being able to restore from back-ups, the school recognized that a great deal of disruption would ensue if its computer systems were still unavailable once students returned. For example, the school would be unable to have ready access to highly important information, such as the financial information needed for accounting purposes, details about prospective students for the next school year and critical information about students under the school’s care, such as medical records and dietary requirements;  teachers would be unable to make use of interactive whiteboards to provide presentations to students; students would no longer be able to use e-learning courses in the classroom or complete online assessments; and boarding students would be unable to complete homework assignments on schools computers in the evening.

With the prospect of significant operational disruption looming over the school, it was at this point that the incident was notified to CFC’s incident response team. The team’s first priority was to establish what ransomware variant had been used in the attack by looking at a copy of the ransom note and a sample of the encrypted files. Having identified the likely ransomware variant, the team then carried out some research to see if there was any way of removing the ransomware without paying the ransom demand. One of our incident response partners produces a regularly updated list of freely available decryption keys for known ransomware variants. Luckily for the school, the team were able to find a decryption key online. With the decryption key to hand, the school was able to begin the process of decrypting the affected data and applications without having to pay the ransom.

However, even though the school had managed to regain access to its computer systems, there was still a question mark over whether the attack had resulted in a data breach. The ransomware attack had impacted servers containing sensitive data, including parents’ names, phone numbers, and residential addresses; data on past and present students, such as grades, attendance, disciplinary and medical records; information on staff, such as contact details, addresses and bank account details; and information on prospective students who were likely to be inducted in the next school year. As the school was subject to local data breach notification laws, it meant that if it transpired that some or all of this data had been accessed or exfiltrated in the course of the attack, the school would have to notify the affected individuals, potentially resulting in a regulatory investigation and damaging the school’s reputation in the eyes of staff, students and parents alike.

In order to address this issue, we engaged one of our incident response partners to conduct a forensic investigation to establish how the hacker had gained access to the insured’s computer systems and whether they had accessed any sensitive data whilst they were there. Unfortunately, when the hacker had carried out the attack, they had set up a temporary user profile, which meant that there was no way of knowing for sure what folders the hackers may have explored and what files may have been opened.

Nevertheless, our incident response team and our forensic partners were able to establish some pertinent facts about the case. First, based on previous incidents and threat intelligence, the ransomware variant used during the course of the attack was not known to be capable of accessing or exfiltrating data. Second, the bandwidth usage logs obtained from the school’s internet service provider did not show high levels of traffic during the period that the hacker had access to the school’s computer systems, indicating that there had not been any major data exfiltration from the school’s network. Third, the hacker was only logged on to the school’s computer systems for a short period of time, suggesting that they were primarily focused on deploying the ransomware rather than seeking out sensitive data.

Given this, our forensic partners determined that the hackers main motive appeared to be financial gain through the use of ransomware, rather than the theft of sensitive data. After engaging legal advice to determine whether a data breach notification would be required, the lawyers advised that, based on the findings of the forensic investigation, no notification would be needed in this instance, thus ensuring that the school’s reputation was not damaged unnecessarily.

The total cost of carrying out a root cause analysis, network security assessment, forensic investigation and engaging legal counsel came to £17,560, all of which was covered by the school’s cyber policy with CFC.

This claim highlights a few key points. Firstly, it highlights the importance of securing the remote desktop protocol (RDP) effectively. If organizations are using RDP, they should make sure that it is not directly exposed to the internet and use a virtual private network (VPN) instead. In addition, businesses should ensure that they have good password hygiene in place and enable multi-factor authentication for any remote access to the network. If the school had had these measures in place, it is highly unlikely that the hacker would have gained access to its computer systems.

Secondly, it highlights the importance of having a good data back-up policy. In this case, the school had been prudent enough to back up its data. However, by not saving these back-ups external to the school’s servers, it meant that when the ransomware started encrypting, it encrypted the back-ups too. Ideally, businesses should maintain daily offline back-ups to help prevent back-ups from being compromised during the course of an attack.

Finally, this claim highlights the value of cyber insurance. When you buy a cyber insurance policy, you are not just buying a promise to pay valid claims. You are also paying for a service to help and advise you when things go wrong. In this case, CFC’s incident response team and our partners were able to provide threat intelligence on the ransomware variant and obtain a free decryption key, enabling the school to regain access to its computer systems; conducted a root cause analysis to establish how the hacker got into the system, enabling the business to identify and remedy any cyber security weaknesses; and conduct a forensic investigation that allowed us to determine that the ransomware attack had not resulted in a data breach, thus preventing the school from conducting an unnecessary notification procedure and needlessly damaging its reputation.

Source: cfcunderwriting.com


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