On the heels of reports coming out of Washington on the government’s scramble to protect the country’s power grid from cybercriminals, CSC reports the launch of an Insurance Cybersecurity Advisory Council for life insurance and annuity providers and property/casualty insurers. The goal of the council is to facilitate the development of best practices and technology strategies that effectively mitigate the risk of cyber attacks on the insurance industry.

Comprising business and IT executives representing a cross-section of insurance companies, the group will also collaborate with CSC to promote awareness and information-sharing throughout the industry. The Council's first meeting is slated for January 2012 in Washington, D.C.

"While insurance companies are benefiting from the digitization of their businesses, they also face new risks such as a tarnished reputation, fraud, intellectual property theft, business disruption, increased regulatory scrutiny or persistent threats, such as cyberespionage," said Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Insurers must assess the maturity of security and enterprise risk management programs and their ability to effectively defend against today's and tomorrow's cyber-risks."

CSC points to use by insurers, agents, brokers and consumers of mobile devices and applications, social networking and cloud computing, all of which are on the upswing and provide opportunities for achieving higher levels of business performance through enhanced productivity, collaboration and agility.

At the same time, these new technologies can leave insurers vulnerable to cybersecurity threats -- both from inside and outside of the organization, says the company. If not addressed, these threats can have a devastating impact on a carrier's reputation and ability to operate and generate revenue.

"By forming the insurance industry's first Cybersecurity Advisory Council, we will be the catalyst for best-practice sharing and development of technology solutions to address this growing concern," said Ray August, president of CSC's Financial Services Group. "Shareholder and consumer confidence, along with a requirement to pass increasingly complex audit procedures, rely on a company's ability to safeguard intellectual property and customer data. The Council's industry leaders will work together to identify the evolving cyber-protection needs for insurance, define the most effective ways to combat cyber threats and educate the industry about the need for prevention."

CSC is heavily invested in cybersecurity capabilities, including a worldwide infrastructure of Security Operations Centers; Common Criteria Test Laboratories in the United States, Europe and the Far East; and a global cyber strike-force team to respond to cybersecurity incidents and provide cyber forensics training and analysis.

Its cybersecurity group includes 2,000 cyber professionals serve commercial clients and public-sector enterprises globally, including civilian departments and agencies, and defense organizations. The company offers vulnerability analysis and penetration testing, data loss prevention services and a full range of managed security services.

Pat Speer writes for Insurance Networking News.