Ullico gets proactive with data risk

Ullico: Financial Services Company Partners with Infolock to Adopt a Programmatic Approach to DLP

The roots of Ullico Inc. stretch back more than ninety years, when labor leaders formed The Union Labor Life Insurance Company to provide financial security to union members and their families.

The Ullico Inc. Family of Companies insures over 2.2 million people and manages more than $7.1 billion in assets. In 2020, its annual revenue was $315.1 million, with net income of $30.3 million. Ullico’s financial strength allows it to give generously to over 140 nonprofits and community groups.

The Challenge

Like many financial service companies, Ullico’s subsidiaries handle a high volume of sensitive customer data, including Protected Health Information (PHI). To protect customers, the company monitors its IT systems for both inadvertent data exposures and unauthorized attempts to access data.

But the company’s data management tools and processes created an overwhelming number of alerts—including many false positives. Even non-sensitive data, like zip codes, were generating potential data loss events that needed review.

We were bombarded with incidents and false positives.

Ullico VP & Chief Information Officer (CIO), Marc Zinsmeister

With that strain on resources, Ullico’s IT team struggled to maintain an effective data loss prevention program (DLP).

The Solution

To address its data protection issues, Ullico partnered with Infolock.

“We were impressed with Infolock’s Data Risk Management Framework,” said Zinsmeister. “They showed us how we could implement and sustain an effective blend of policy governance, data monitoring technology, and process control.”

To enforce Ullico’s policy on restricting PHI, for example, Infolock implemented exact data matching (EDM). This method detected ICD-10 diagnosis codes in employee communications to pinpoint policy violations. Using that data, Infolock security analyst Dennis Sawatzki collaborated with Ullico Compliance AVP Christine Mullen to build a process to fix the problem.

It was eye-opening. Infolock’s data screening let our IT team focus on true positives instead of chasing ghosts. And it let our compliance team see clearly where to focus our risk mitigation efforts.

Ullico AVP of Compliance, Christine Mullen

“Ultimately, it became an employee education issue,” concluded Mullen. “With better data and a more informed process, we were able to provide additional DLP training where it was needed most. And that quickly helped us reduce data exposure.”

Chris Noland, Privacy Officer and AVP of Compliance, also noted how Infolock helped identify and address PHI issues with email and passwords. Emails were often forwarded without regard to PHI contained in attachments. And passwords were often shared among employees, resulting in loss of system access control.

To solve these problems, Infolock instituted new mailbox policies and new password rules, with automated prompts to force users to take corrective actions.

Infolock has done an excellent job on frontline defense, and helped us significantly reduce the number of email and password policy infractions. We used to generate lengthy daily reports, but now we’re down to very manageable weekly reports.

Ullico Privacy Officer & AVP of Compliance, Chris Noland

The Results

By integrating policy, data, and process to guide every aspect of DLP, Ullico streamlined its entire approach to data protection. The result was more accurate assessment of policy violations, more efficient response, more targeted action, and fewer alerts.

With fewer incidents to review, Ullico is able to devote more resources to plan ahead— proactively avoiding data loss incidents, instead of reacting to them.

“Infolock’s dedicated team has opened our eyes to potential problems, highlighted the need for new policies, and helped us investigate root causes of issues,” said Ullico CIO Zinsmeister.

In short, Infolock has dramatically improved the quality of our DLP program and saved us a LOT of time and money.

Ullico VP & Chief Information Officer (CIO), Marc Zinsmeister

To download the fancy PDF version of this case study, click here.

Joshua Lyons is the Director of Customer Outcomes at Infolock.

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