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Risk Cooperative Leads University Risk Management Summit at Harvard

On June 8th, Risk Cooperative, in partnership with Control Risks and Harvard University’s Risk Management Department, hosted the inaugural Incident Management Workshop on the campus of Harvard Business School. The workshop attendees were comprised of colleges and universities, and the goal of the workshop was for the universities to network with other schools and foster discussions about different approaches to risk management issues affecting colleges and universities.

The event began with a brief welcome from Walter Pizzano, Harvard’s Director of Risk Strategy & Insurance, followed by an overview of the global risk landscape. Strategies to both prevent and manage active shooter situations on campus, along with addressing international kidnappings, were discussed given the current domestic and global threat landscapes. Attendees were surprised to learn about the indirect costs associated with these particular risks, namely reputational risk. While the financial impact following an active shooter event or kidnapping is daunting in itself, the reputational risks can last for years. Student safety is a prime concern for college applicants and their families, highlighting the importance for schools to have plans in place should one of these unfortunate events occur.

During lunch, Harvard Business School’s Global Experience Office (GEO) discussed their Global FIELD Immersion Program. All first-year MBA students are required to travel to emerging market countries for approximately 9 days, assisting small businesses with their strategy and growth. GEO highlighted their partnership with Risk Cooperative in the development of a custom solution to mitigate risks associated with pivoting or cancelling a FIELD Immersion trip due to a series of unfortunate events such as threat of communicable disease, death of a foreign leader, airline strike, natural disasters, among others. Harvard’s Global Support Services (GSS) office also discussed their operations during lunch, and how they ensure students and faculty alike are protected during their travels.

The afternoon session covered an insidious topic that dominates today’s news cycle; cyber threats. Colleges and universities are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks because of the vast scale of end points which can be compromised. With thousands of students using multiple forms of technology on unsecured networks (coffee shops, restaurants, fraternity houses, etc.), cyber hygiene is typically not a high priority for young people. Clicking on a wrong link can allow a bad actor to enter a university’s network and cause havoc, from compromising Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or extorting a student or faculty member by holding their files hostage. Adding to the cyber threat, many universities have hospital systems thus exposing them to Protected Health Information (PHI) risks. A common myth is that a member of the university community, or the university itself, will immediately know if a hacker has infiltrated a network. The truth is a cyber breach can lay dormant for many months before they are uncovered, thus further complicating cyber defenses.

In partnership with Control Risks and Harvard’s Risk Management Office, Risk Cooperative is planning a follow up workshop in 2019 to continue the dialogue of college and university preparedness and resiliency.

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