Competitive advantage is spawning an incongruous trend among insurance companies. To retain and build business, carriers must make it as easy as possible for their suppliers, contractors, business partners and customers to do business. This requires opening their networks and systems to the outside world, making security an increasingly difficult-if not impossible-task to manage.I doubt anyone will argue that security has become the ultimate risk management issue. And, whether referring to insiders or hackers, it's become more than a simple game of cat and mouse. Every second Tuesday of the month, Microsoft announces its latest security patches, and every second Tuesday every hacker knows about them. Even as Microsoft released its beta version of the Vista operating system, hackers had already unleashed viruses that cripple its functionality.

Companies cognizant of the game diligently conduct vulnerability studies and penetration analyses, and some, as a matter of routine, look at process flaws and operational practices that add to risk exposure. The price to pay is often dear.

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