Don’t Be a Failure; Use These 4 Key Ways to Improve Your Cyber Response Plan Today

By: | November 27, 2018 • 3 min read
Paul King is SVP and national management and professional services director at USI Insurance Services based in Dallas, Texas. USI’s cyber practice leverages the USI ONE Advantage® with clients across the world. USI ONE integrates proprietary business analytics with a networked team of local and national experts to evaluate the client’s risk profile and identify targeted solutions. Paul can be contacted at [email protected] or 214-443-3107. For more information on USI, visit or follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Sophisticated, widespread and costlier than ever, recent cyber incidents have shown that corporations require more than a well-secured network and technology infrastructure to respond to an adverse cyber event. Regardless of size or industry, businesses need a strong Cyber Incident Response Plan (CIRP) that outlines how specific processes and stakeholders should react to a cyber threat.


Recent studies show the longer it takes to detect, respond and contain a cyber event, the higher the adverse financial impact. This is one of the key lessons from last year’s data breach at credit reporting bureau Equifax, which, following one of the largest cyber attacks in U.S. history, was paralyzed by indecision and poor response execution. According to cyber security experts, Equifax, which has incurred in excess of $439 million in breach-related costs through September 2018, lacked an effective CIRP with policies and procedures to guide response requirements.

It’s important for organizations to learn from the Equifax case and other similar real-world examples by taking proactive steps to improve their CIRP and mitigate financial loss in the event of a cyber incident. When looking to strengthen your organization’s CIRP, consider focusing on the following key areas:

1) Decision Making and Coordination

During a cyber incident, many organizations rely on one or two key people with institutional knowledge to provide guidance and make critical decisions. This approach is a shortfall of incident response plans, leading to response failure if those decision makers are not immediately available.

It is critical to have a full team of individuals with strong institutional knowledge, specific responsibilities and decision-making authority. Not only top executives or IT representatives, but also legal, risk management and physical security, to lead coordination of real-time information sharing and decision making across various business units within the organization. The CIRP plan should also detail each person’s responsibilities during the event and detail step-by-step procedures to address the cyber incident.

2) Disclosure & Public Relations Strategy

A good CIRP should contain a strong incident communication strategy that covers compliance-related issues, media communications, internal communications as well as timeframes and guidelines for disclosing a cyber incident to affected parties. Depending on the jurisdiction and industry, incident reporting may be required by law to regulators (such as Attorney Generals and industry-specific regulators like the Office for Civil Rights for Healthcare), other law enforcement authorities and individuals affected by the breach.

Ultimately, a strong CIRP should contain a list of trusted partners who understand the organization’s processes and systems and can respond immediately to a crisis on-time and on-budget and in conjunction with any in-force cyber insurance policies.

Incident communications must strike the right balance between openness and protection. Press releases, announcements or disclosure statements should be coordinated with legal and communication teams and contain clear language for the intended audience.

3) Preselecting Incident Responders

A strong CIRP should contain a shortlist of incident responders who have been vetted and approved by the totality of the organization and not just the IT department. For example, legal may have firms they want to use that IT does not know about and vice versa. The list should outline CIRP vendors’ contact information, specific expertise and hourly rate. It may be vital to include whether a listed vendor offers a retainer, which guarantees quick and priority response during a crisis.

Ultimately, a strong CIRP should contain a list of trusted partners who understand the organization’s processes and systems and can respond immediately to a crisis on-time and on-budget and in conjunction with any in-force cyber insurance policies.

4) Practice Cyber Incident Response Planning

CIRPs tend to emphasize frequent testing of network recovery backup systems, but there is often little practice with the crisis management process of the response plan. It is equally critical to test both components, as either may cause a response to fail if not practiced and ingrained.


Organizations should routinely test notification and communication procedures to prepare individuals with incident response responsibilities for actual events. The test can be used to update incident handling and reporting procedures, validate emergency contact information of vendors, law enforcement and stakeholders and provide a forum for new and emergent needs of the CIRP to be built and implemented.

Experts recommend testing exercises at least once every 12 months, to help identify any operational gaps and hiccups in execution that need to be corrected or eliminated. &

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]