Insurance company Baloise Insurance was created in 2013 through the merger of the Mercator, Avéro and Nateus insurance companies. It is part of the Swiss Baloise Group, a European provider of insurance and pension solutions.
Its insurance offering is tied to smart prevention services. The ambition of Baloise Insurance is to contribute to a safer world for all stakeholders, including employees, partners and customers.
This is achieved by offering innovative services that go beyond insurance products and by making processes simpler and safer. Examples include Safe Home, which bundles an insurance product with intelligent preventive measures (through sensors such as smoke detectors and alarm systems), as well as Mobly, a driver assistance system that can be easily installed using a dongle, enabling use in cheaper or second-hand vehicles as well.
Challenge one: Importance of 24/7 connectivity
The fact that IT plays a key role in the insurance business is no secret. In addition, the use and dependency on IT is set to increase in the coming years. One of the main reasons is the users’ desire to consult the necessary information anytime, anywhere and on any device.
“The pace of change in the areas of the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving Baloise Insurance to become an increasingly digital company. IT is more than ever the backbone of our company,” said Jeroen Hulshof, Chief Information Security Officer at Baloise Insurance.
Connectivity can no longer be ignored in our society. A company or service must be available or accessible on a 24/7 basis. Also, any connection with partners and customers needs to be adequately secured. “That’s why our networking base layer is highly crucial,” said Alexander Schapman, ICT Services Manager at Baloise Insurance.
Following the relocation to new headquarters in Antwerp in 2010, Baloise Insurance joined forces with SecureLink to tackle its entire network. Requirements revolved around toughness, speed, safety and scalability. In 2017, the entire Wi-Fi network was modernised. This not only resulted in a faster wireless network, but also one that is safer and more user-friendly for visitors and (temporary) external employees.
Network Operations Centre (NOC) Baloise Insurance decided to outsource the management of its network in order to increase focus on its core business.
From SecureLink’s Network Operations Center (NOC), the availability of the networks and systems are monitored. By having a specialised external team track this very closely, extremely quick response times are guaranteed if an incident would occur. “We’ve observed excellent operational cooperation between our people and SecureLink’s NOC,” explained Alexander Schapman.
“This choice has resulted in almost no network downtime. No incidents have been recorded and the solid preparation of changes sent from the NOC is noticeable. Our uptime is outstanding.”
Challenge two: Digital = more security risks
The drawback of increasingly digital work is a rise of associated safety risks. With security precisely being Baloise Insurance’s core business, which includes processing large amounts of confidential data on a daily basis, managing this risk is essential.
Hulshof said: “Ensuring safety – on a technological level as well – is crucial for our company. But we are well aware that 100% protection does not exist. In the past we only had one gate requiring clearance. Today you can compare us to an airport terminal with several gates and an exposure to many more risks. That is why we must be prepared for possible security incidents to the fullest.”
Cyber Defence Centre (CDC)
This can be achieved by scanning all systems. But continuous security monitoring is a complex and time-consuming matter. It is nearly impossible to keep doing this in-house or independently.
The design of suitable systems (such as SIEM) is only the beginning – the knowledge and expertise to correctly interpret and analyse the incidents 24/7 is also required.
SecureLink provided the perfect solution, offering managed security services from SecureLink’s Cyber Defence Centre (CDC).
“SecureLink not only installed the required technology but thanks to its CDC, specialised security analysts monitor all incidents or related events remotely. They provide advice on the appropriate actions to take. This enables us to focus on services that really matter to our customers,” said Hulshof.
Straight away, this expertise is one of the biggest advantages of the long-term partnership with SecureLink. The collaboration with SecureLink has been ongoing for about 10 years with systematic extensions along the way.
Today, leveraging the SecureLink CDC, Baloise Insurance has far faster access to the right competencies and technological solutions to meet the needs of customers and employees.”
“We are a European company represented in different countries. If you can work together with another European partner such as SecureLink, with operations at a European level offering the same high-quality security service everywhere, then that is a huge advantage,” added Hulshof.