2014 Risk All Star: Thomas Dunbar

Protecting His Company

Few, if any, risk managers actually want to simulate a distributed denial of service or persistent attack on their computer systems, but Thomas Dunbar at XL Group plc in Stamford, Conn., wanted to see how his internal staff and outside vendors would react.

After all, the cyber risk insurer has to set an example of online security best practices.

Thomas Dunbar, chief information risk  management, XL Group

Thomas Dunbar, chief information risk officer, XL Group

Dunbar, XL’s chief information risk officer, contracted with Secure Network Technologies in Syracuse, N.Y., to conduct a DDoS attack against the firm’s externally facing websites, unbeknownst to XL’s internal security team and service provider.

Dunbar also had Secure simulate an advanced persistent attack, in which it entered and quietly remained within XL’s systems to conduct a “reconnaissance” on any vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain access to customer information or proprietary data.

“It’s good to run these tests for a longer period of time, because infrastructure might change when we deploy a new business application or launch a new line of business,” Dunbar said. “We can see how our network and colleagues react to the changes and determine the prolonged strength of the program.”


Secure’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Stasiukonis said that Dunbar doesn’t just want to protect the company, he also wants to understand “the enemy to the Nth degree.”

“In all of the years that I’ve worked with companies, nobody ever really wants to simulate a DDoS attack to understand their weaknesses, but him,” Stasiukonis said. “Tom is a pioneer — he wants to see how his people will really react.”

Dunbar leads a six-person cyber risk team that works with XL’s business units and information technology department to identify and remediate cyber risks.

To combat identified threats and vulnerabilities, they have built a strong technological structure that monitors, prevents, detects and responds to security events.

They have deployed an advanced data loss protection infrastructure to ensure that XL’s data — particularly confidential customer information — are contained within the XL network.

“These tools have really resonated with our colleagues and have clearly raised the level of XL’s cyber security awareness and preparedness.” — Jacob D. Rosengarten, executive vice president and chief enterprise risk officer, XL Group

Overall, Dunbar has taken “a very holistic approach” toward minimizing cyber attacks, said Jacob D. Rosengarten, XL’s executive vice president and chief enterprise risk officer.

For example, Dunbar and his team have taken a leadership role in educating XL’s employees about cyber security “by harnessing innovative and creative communications media that capture the imagination” — whether through posters in lunchrooms, short webinars or contests that test password security, Rosengarten said.


“These tools have really resonated with our colleagues and have clearly raised the level of XL’s cyber security awareness and preparedness,” he said.

Dunbar said his team focuses on education to drive behavioral change, as employees are often “the weakest link.”

“We encourage people to use the ‘see something, say something’ philosophy,” Dunbar said. “We want them to speak up if they see something strange in their email inbox, or if they see something unusual going on in the system, and to also give feedback to make security stronger.”

“We want to make our colleagues one of the strongest links,” Dunbar said.


350px_allstarRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and/or passion.

See the complete list of 2014 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

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]