In years of financial and political uncertainty, insurance helps tech companies feel secure enough to continue to innovate.
If there’s one sector known for turmoil, it’s the technology industry. Well-known companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google have enabled people to communicate, build social networks around the world, and get answers to their questions in minutes.
But even an industry built on disruptive technology couldn’t prepare for COVID-19. To slow the spread of the virus and protect its employees, offices across the country have moved to remote work, creating a number of new risks.
Enterprises are still adapting to the new worker safety and cybersecurity risks associated with remotework arrangements.
Other sectors often expect tech companies to lead the creation of solutions such as 5G and increasing video conferencing solutions, even though they are learning to navigate new standards.
In these uncertain times, insurance helps tech companies find the stability they need to continue to innovate during the pandemic.
Andrew Zarkowski, head of global technology at Hartford, said the current state of economics and technology companies remains dynamic.
As a company that has been innovating in the insurance industry for over 200 years and insuring technology companies for over 30 years, we are ready to tackle these challenges.
Tech companies are leading the telecommuting revolution
When COVID-19 was a hit, one of the first things many companies did to protect their workers from viruses was to move to a remote workforce.
Although remotework was intended to be a temporary solution to control the spread of the virus, many employees find it preferred to have the flexibility to work from home.
Technology giants like Twitter are paving the way for this kind of future where employees continue to work from home after a pandemic, but Zarkowsky is moving to a hybrid model instead of 100% remote work after COVID. We expect more companies.
Remote work is more flexible for employees, but it can pose a safety risk that does not exist in a controlled office environment. In the office, employees need to use ergonomic desks and chairs. At home, they may be working on a kitchen table or sofa, which can lead to back and wrist sprains.
Everyone has a nice ergonomic desk and chair in the office. It’s a very controlled environment, Zarkowski said.
Then push it home. The end result is an uncontrolled environment. From a risk perspective, it changes things. To mitigate risk, companies need to talk to their employees and provide ergonomic tips.
Demand for new technologies and evolving cyber risks
The increase in telecommuting has also created a demand for new technologies that enable collaboration and support virtual environments that keep businesses and people safe.
Some of these shifts are motivated for practical reasons. As the number of teleworkers increases, so does the demand for reliable Wi-Fi, broadband and 5G services. Companies are using collaboration and video conferencing technology more often to connect with employees and clients and replace face-to-face meetings.
Other shifts focus on improving safety during a pandemic. Biometric technologies such as retinal scanners, facial recognition and voice recognition eliminate touchpoints while enhancing security and operational benefits.
Biometric devices that can detect temperature from a distance help keep people safe by locating early symptoms of the virus while collecting important data for contact tracing and productivity analysis.
Jim Chalong, head of technology at Hartford, said that security systems and sensitive equipment currently installed in buildings can use biometric technology due to their advanced security and data collection capabilities. It states that it is highly sexual.
Arranging telecommuting and biometric technology benefits businesses and employees, but it also comes with risks.
Teleworker employees may not have the secure networks and servers found in the office, making businesses more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Remote work also puts additional strain on the corporate network and can jeopardize security.
Zarkowsky says that the telecommuting scenario adds a lot of uncontrolled risk from a cyber perspective.
The increasing number of ransomware attacks prior to the pandemic poses an even greater risk.
Cybercriminals use pandemics by sending phishing emails impersonating the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These emails appear to come from trusted sources, with only one employee opening the email attachment in order for a hacker to access the company’s computer system.
Cyber criminals are also targeting biometric databases. If a company collects biometric data and hacking compromises personal information, the company will accept claims from employees. You can change your password at any time. The human retina cannot.
I think we’re seeing more and more economies relying on the technology products and services offered by the technology industry, Zarkowski said.
Its reliability increases the chances that a company will suffer financial losses based on technology downs and cyber attacks.
Evolving risk solutions
While these risks existed before the pandemic, COVID-19 accelerated the demand for new technologies. As a result, insurers have evolved risk management services and the way they take risks in cybersecurity and technology.
We have a long history of helping our clients, especially with regard to employee-related risks and, more specifically, ergonomic risks. According to Zarkowsky, some of the risk management services were virtualized to focus on the telecommuting environment. This is because it is a unique and different risk in today’s world.
We have also launched external resources to help companies address the COVID-19 risk. Some topics include improving ergonomics and mitigating cyber risk. With the increase in cyber attacks, the emphasis was on the active support of our customers.
Enterprises need proactive and responsive measures to prevent cyberattacks and mitigate the damage in the event of a cyberattack. Risk assessment is a good place for enterprises to get started, as it helps identify vulnerabilities by scanning the perimeter of the enterprise network. Hartford provides customers with risk assessments, along with a range of solutions to prevent and respond to cyberattacks.
Cyber is just one of our areas of expertise. We also focus on consistently building expertise in other areas such as biometrics, digital health, telehealth, AI and digital media to create new solutions to these types of risks. Now that the adoption of these evolving technologies is accelerating, we can use our insights to take on and protect these inherent risks, Charron said.
The situation is changing, Zarkowsky added. We have the ability to understand the risks, scale up and partner with agents to provide the right product and service solutions.
As many technologies operate internationally, underwriters and agencies need to think globally when assessing each risk.
Technology companies are truly global, and that’s what we recognize. That is why we have global technological practices, Zarkowski said. The idea that a virus stays in one country, or technology stays in one country, is clearly meaningless.
Demand for new technology tightens government regulation
In addition to this additional demand for tech products, tech companies are facing increased scrutiny from governments and regulators.
There have been some speculations that there are changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act aimed at making tech companies accountable for what happened online.
Section 230 currently protects technology companies from being liable for the content that users post on their site. If it is revoked or reformed, companies such as Facebook and Twitter may be exposed to a wave of complaints, requiring increased general liability and E & O protection.
Biometric technology is also facing its own push from regulators. Government bans, state-specific legislation, and federal and European legislation addressing data collection and biases complicate product design, implementation, and compliance.
Companies need to pay close attention to legislative changes, Zarkowski said. At Hartford, we were constantly monitoring the regulatory situation and were able to find new ways to help insureds adapt to change. &
Courtney DuChene is a staff writer for Risk & Insurance.She can reach at [email protected]
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