Risk Scenario

Stabbed in the Back

Internal perpetrators show a company just what it doesn’t know about cyber risk management.
By: | October 15, 2016 • 9 min read
Risk Scenarios are created by Risk & Insurance editors along with leading industry partners. The hypothetical, yet realistic stories, showcase emerging risks that can result in significant losses if not properly addressed.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.

Part One: Opportunity Knocks

Jack Fisk, nice and warm in the comfort of his study in Fort Collins, Colorado, sat and stared at the message in his personal email account inbox. He sat and stared at it for a long time.

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Jack took a sip of herbal tea and a nibble of the lemon cookie at his elbow. Then he went back to staring at the message. There it was in black and white, an offer from a Chinese national — an offer he felt he couldn’t refuse.

As a lead engineer with Super Diamond, a manufacturer of mining and drilling equipment, Jack was an integral part of a team that developed one of the most effective drilling bits ever made. The bit, used in gold mining and deep-sea oil extraction, was helping to push Super Diamond into record-breaking revenue territory.

There was only one problem and it was a very big one, for Jack at least. Super Diamond’s top line was breaking records, but Jack Fisk felt left out. Where were his millions, he wondered.

Well here they were. He didn’t know how they found him, but they found him.

The deal was this. Hand over some of Super Diamond’s top-secret product information and receive a seven-figure reward.

As Jack considered the offer, he felt entirely justified in taking it. It was his creativity and knowledge, more than anyone else’s, which led to the product breakthrough. He was sure of it. He knew it in his gut.

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Here’s what Jack didn’t know. Another employee of Super Diamond, an IT executive based in Mumbai, was looking at a very similar email. This employee, Vijay Bhakta, enjoyed super-user status within Super Diamond’s computer networks, with access to all of its servers.

The Chinese had done their homework. Jack, married with two children, lived a pretty straight life. The lure of a big paycheck was more than enough for him.

Vijay enjoyed a riskier lifestyle. Money was a good motivator for him, but just as compelling were the offers of drugs and prostitutes the Chinese were dangling in front of him.

In approaching Vijay, the Chinese were after more than product information. They wanted access to Super Diamond’s customer list and information on its entire product line, not just the drilling bits that Jack helped develop.

Both executives, unbeknownst to the other, took the bait.

For the next 18 months, Jack used the time-honored method of downloading proprietary information onto a thumb drive, walking out the door with it, and painstakingly sending it to his Chinese contact using his personal email address in the quiet comfort of his study at home.

The Bitcoin payments from the Chinese, amounting to $2.7 million in 18 months, arrive faithfully. Jack uploads his company’s precious trade secrets just as faithfully.

Vijay is introduced to a hacker who, armed with the IT exec’s user information and passcodes, invades Super Diamond’s system at will over the same time period.

Vijay is also faithfully compensated, with cash drops and services meeting his other needs, under the terms of his agreement with the Chinese.

At the end of 18 months, fully exploiting their two points of entry, the Chinese own the keys to the Super Diamond kingdom. They know how to make a number of Super Diamond’s products and they know exactly who to sell them to and at what price.

Part Two: A Chilling Recognition

Super Diamond’s risk manager, Cathleen Sunbury, is enjoying an invigorating game of tennis with a friend on a sunlit court in San Diego, when she gets an urgent text from the company’s COO.

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“Please get to the office, ASAP,” says the message. “Urgent.”

A chill runs through Cathleen.

“Uh oh,” she says, as she and her friend grab a water break courtside.

“What is it?” her friend says.

“I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t look good,” Cathleen says. “I gotta go.”

“Is this because I was winning?” her friend asks.

That would normally be a funny jibe between friends. It’s not today.

At the office, other company executives share with Cathleen what they know. Sales in several of Super Diamond’s key Asian markets have suddenly softened.

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There is also an indication that the company suffered an IT breach, but the extent of it is difficult to ascertain. Whoever broke in did a great job of covering their tracks. What was accessed and what was taken appear to be unknowns. The company’s IT department is at a loss.

“I know who to call,” Sunbury says, banking on a conversation she had with a former higher-up in the FBI who now works for a cyber forensics firm in Philadelphia.

The Super Diamond CEO and CFO initially balk at the forensic firm’s price tag.

The vice president of the forensic firm, who led key cyber investigations for the FBI before entering the private sector, snorts in derision.

“Your company is horrible at this,” the forensics VP says.

“Your IT department has no idea what happened and it will take them months to figure it out,” he says.

“It’s looking like you have an internal perpetrator, possibly more than one. How much longer can you afford to wait to determine what’s going on?”

The phrase “possibly more than one” overwhelms any resistance on the part of the CFO and the CEO. They sign on the dotted line with the forensics firm.

The forensic firm gets right to work. To connect the dots they pull records from a number of departments, including Human Resources and Security.

They also have their own cyber security specialist take a look at the Super Diamond network to see who might have compromised it.

It takes the forensics firm two days to come up with two names: Jack Fisk and Vijay Bhakta.

Part Three: Gone, Gone, Gone

Jack Fisk and Vijay Bhakta are dismissed and face criminal charges. As painful as that is for company executives, that’s the easy part.

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What comes next for Cathleen Sunbury in her role as risk manager is far more painstaking, and far more painful.

The forensics team is able to match up human resources records, including data on when Vijay Bhakta and Jack Fisk were in the office, against data on computer use, including when an outside device was connected to Jack Fisk’s computer.

That left no doubt that the product information and additional company information that was taken from Super Diamond was the work of inside perpetrators.

The “good” news is that Super Diamond executives now understand what happened. The bad news is that their insurance policies are inadequate to cover the loss.

Determining the value of what was taken, including the cost of lost sales, is difficult, but Super Diamond executives settle on a figure of $200 million.

The company’s cyber breach policy, though, covers an occurrence in the event of a breach from an outside hacker. Bhakta and Fisk are internal perpetrators, and thus the company is not covered, its carrier says.

Compounding the pain, Super Diamond shareholders file suit against Super Diamond executives and board members. The shareholders argue that the board and the C-suites failed to take adequate measures to protect proprietary company information.

The company’s E&O and D&O policies respond to the costs of the lawsuits. But the company faces punishing premium increases for both E&O and D&O coverage going forward.

Sales are depressed, due to the theft of key intellectual property, and getting good cyber coverage at a reasonable price is flat-out impossible.

Super Diamond settles for a premium increase to cover both external and internal hacks that is 400 percent more than it faced the previous year.

Worn out by the process of determining the loss and trying to get coverage for a company that is bleeding money; Cathleen Sunbury resigns.

“I don’t know who we’re going to get to replace you,” the CEO says.

“I don’t know either,” Sunbury says, meaning no disrespect but feeling utterly defeated.

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Risk & Insurance® partnered with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions to produce this scenario. Below are Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ recommendations on how to prevent the losses presented in the scenario. This perspective is not an editorial opinion of Risk & Insurance®.

Super Diamond’s Cathleen Sunbury might still have her job and her company would be in much better shape had she partnered with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Swiss Re, in addition to offering cyber insurance coverage that would have covered an internal perpetrator incident such as the one detailed in “Stabbed in the Back,” would also advise Sunbury and her fellow executives at Super Diamond on being much better prepared to defend against and respond to it.

Having a forensics team, a crisis (breach) communications partner and the right law firm lined up ahead of time would have saved the company a lot of time and trouble. Swiss Re offers all of that as part of its coverage.

In just one example, imagine the costs that Super Diamond will incur if it has to go after Vijay Bhakta and Jack Fisk in civil court, or what it’s going to spend defending itself against shareholder lawsuits.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions would have paid for Super Diamond’s legal defense, compensated it for lost revenue, and paid for data reconstitution and additional legal costs as part of its CyberSolutions product.

The lost sales in Asia that Super Diamond experiences when Jack Fisk sells its intellectual property to a Chinese national would also be covered under that policy.

On the front end, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions would work with Super Diamond to identify which of its mining or drilling technologies were most valuable; in other words, naming the “crown jewels” that the company absolutely could not afford to lose control of. That would also involve ascertaining where those “jewels” are stored and who has access to them.

The upfront work would also include the services of experts with IBM who can conduct penetration tests of the company’s IT systems.

In essence, companies everywhere need to understand that any gap in its preparedness or ability to respond creates liability. There is not only the initial liability of a loss or a penetration, there is the multiplying liability of shareholders, or regulators, holding the company responsible for its negligence.

By partnering with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and picking up its CyberSolutions product, Super Diamond would have bolstered its risk mitigation and vastly improved the efficiency of its response.

No company is safe from a cyber penetration; the record is clear on that.  But experts say many companies have a lot of ground to make up to become more vigilant and better coordinated to bounce back when an incident occurs.

No entity can do this on its own. Pick the right partner(s).




Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

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Risk Management

The Profession

After 20 years in the business, Navy Pier’s Director of Risk Management values her relationships in the industry more than ever.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Working at Dominick’s Finer Foods bagging groceries. Shortly after I was hired, I was promoted to [cashier] and then to a management position. It taught me great responsibility and it helped me develop the leadership skills I still carry today.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

While working for Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the administration of claims. This led to a business relationship with the director of risk management of the organization who actually owned the property. Ultimately, a position became available in her department and the rest is history.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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The risk management community is doing a phenomenal job in professional development and creating great opportunities for risk managers to network. The development of relationships in this industry is vitally important and by providing opportunities for risk managers to come together and speak about their experiences and challenges is what enables many of us to be able to do our jobs even more effectively.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Attracting, educating and retaining young talent. There is this preconceived notion that the insurance industry and risk management are boring and there could be nothing further from the truth.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

In my 20 years in the industry, the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry are the various types of risk we look to insure against. Many risks that exist today were not even on our radar 20 years ago.

Gina Kirchner, director of risk management, Navy Pier Inc.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

FM Global. They have been our property carrier for a great number of years and in my opinion are the best in the business.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

I am optimistic that policies will be put in place with the new administration that will be good for the economy and business.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

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The commercial risks that are of most concern to me are cyber risks, business interruption, and any form of a health epidemic on a global scale. We are dealing with new exposures and new risks that we are truly not ready for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mother has played a significant role in shaping my ideals and values. She truly instilled a very strong work ethic in me. However, there are many men and women in business who have mentored me and have had a significant impact on me and my career as well.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I am most proud of making the decision a couple of years ago to return to school and obtain my [MBA]. It took a lot of prayer, dedication and determination to accomplish this while still working a full time job, being involved in my church, studying abroad and maintaining a household.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

“Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I loved the book and the movie.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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A French restaurant in Paris, France named Les Noces de Jeannette Restaurant à Paris. It was the most amazing food and brings back such great memories.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Israel. My husband and I just returned a few days ago and spent time in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jordan. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We did everything from riding camels to taking boat rides on the Sea of Galilee to attending concerts sitting on the Temple steps. The trip was absolutely life changing.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Many, many years ago … I went parasailing in the Caribbean. I had a great experience and didn’t think about the risk at the time because I was young, single and free. Looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same decision today.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I would have to say the relationships and partnerships I have developed with insurance carriers, brokers and other professionals in the industry. To have wonderful working relationships with such a vast array of talented individuals who are so knowledgeable and to have some of those relationships develop into true friendships is very rewarding.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

My friends and family have a general idea that my position involves claims and insurance. However, I don’t think they fully understand the magnitude of my responsibilities and the direct impact it has on my organization, which experiences more than 9 million visitors a year.




Katie Siegel is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]