Risk Insider: Jack Hampton

Apple Versus the FBI

By: | March 1, 2016 • 3 min read

John (Jack) Hampton is a Professor of Business at St. Peter’s University, a core faculty member at the International School of Management (Paris), and a Risk Insider at Risk and Insurance magazine where he was named a 2018 All Star. He was Executive Director of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), dean of the schools of business at Seton Hall and Connecticut State universities, and provost of the College of Insurance and SUNY Maritime College in New York City.

I have an Italian friend who raised two daughters, both delightful and well-mannered. One was smart as a whip. The other, in a term used by her mother, was a little “stunad,” a Sicilian word for a not-so-bright person. It roughly translates as stupid.

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If we listen enough to presidential candidates and advertising pitches on television, we recognize that many parties treat us as though we are all “stunad.” This does not make much difference in most activities of daily life. It is quite dangerous in cybersecurity. I am referring to the legal and emotional quarrel between Apple, as articulated by Tim Cook, and the FBI, led by Director James Comeyis.

The issue is straightforward. Thousands of eager hackers find their way around even the most sophisticated encryption. If not today, certainly by tomorrow. Thus, Apple incorporated into the iPhone a privacy feature that, by all indications, seems to work.

If you simply encrypt data, a powerful computer may crack the code by brute force. So Apple created “wiper,” a feature that deletes all data on the tenth incorrect password. The government wants Apple to disable the feature. Apple says no.

As with many such arguments, we wind up in court where a judge makes a ruling on a narrow legal interpretation. This one was based on the All Writs Act, a 1789 law that authorizes courts to do anything that seems to be “appropriate.” No congressional debate. No public discussion. No evidence that the judge has a clue as to the ramifications of the ruling.

So why do we introduce this dispute with a slang term from Sicily? The answer is simple. Anyone who knows cybersecurity dangers also knows that we need a broader discussion on the Internet of Things.

Two issues:

  • Unknown Ramifications. If you create a backdoor to widely-used devices, what harm will be done by the bad guys?
  • Role of the Courts. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to defeat the wiper feature. A well-qualified judge on legal matters is hardly an expert on cyber risk.

Apple, supported by others, is resisting the Order. At this point nobody knows who will win. It is entirely possible that everyone will lose.

Perhaps I can make a suggestion. During World War II, the Brits cracked the German Enigma code in Europe. In the Pacific theater, the Americans recruited 500 or so native talkers of Navajo. Identified as “code talkers,” they transmitted the most sensitive data over open radio frequencies.

A well-qualified judge on legal matters is hardly an expert on cyber risk.

The Japanese never cracked the code. This is instructive in the current Apple-FBI disagreement. Should we tackle the encryption or acknowledge ways around it?

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If that’s not enough, consider terrorists, the real target of the lawsuit. As soon as the iPhone is not secure, terrorists will find today’s equivalent of Navajo. Will it be one of the 7,097 distinct languages identified by Ethnologue? Probably not, although my personal preference is Konso, a Lowland East Cushitic language spoken by about 200,000 people.

More likely, they will communicate using the Darknet or some other secure channel. Did Judge Pym consider this possibility?
We will watch the Apple-FBI litigation on appeal. Let’s hope the courts get this one right. In the meantime, the terrorists are probably developing strategies to circumvent unlocked iPhones. They are not, after all, “stunad.”

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.

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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.

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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]