Data security during migration in insurance – data migration challenges

Janusz Januszkiewicz
April 15, 2024

In the late 80s, only 1% of data stored was digital.

By 2012 only 1% of global data was not.

The more time goes by, the more data we have. The amount of data in the world grows exponentially. 328.77 million terabytes of data is being created every day as of 2024. 181 zettabytes of data will be generated in 2025.

Moving this amount of data around, especially with sensitive customer information, is a tall task. 

What is data migration and how to keep data secure during the process? Let us talk about it.

Security Challenges for Data Migration in Insurance

Customer and policies data is like a treasure for any insurance company. And just like the treasure, that's growing bigger, and bigger, insurance companies need bigger and better places to store it.

What are the challenges during data migration? Let's talk about it.

Vast Data Volume

It's just like moving from one flat to another – the more belongings you have, the harder (and more expensive) it gets, and the higher the risk of missing something.

Gathering Sensitive Customer Data and Maintaining Data Integrity

In the context of insurance data migration, it is essential to gather sensitive customer data while upholding the highest standards of data integrity. This involves meticulous processes to ensure that all personal and policy information is accurately transferred without alteration, ensuring both compliance with privacy laws and the maintenance of trust with policyholders. The focus must be on precision and security to prevent data breaches and inaccuracies that could affect customer relationships and regulatory compliance.

Transferring Policies With Their History

Transferring policy data along with their historical context in the insurance sector involves more than simple data movement; it requires maintaining the integrity and continuity of the data's lifecycle. This includes ensuring all historical claims, adjustments, and interactions are accurately mapped and migrated without data loss. This process is crucial for maintaining legal compliance, assessing risks accurately, and providing seamless customer service. It also involves complex data mapping from legacy systems to newer systems, often requiring transformation to align with newer data structures and formats.

Potential Data Breaches During Data Migration Process

It's hard not to see the reference to "Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest" movie. When the chest was hidden on an island no one knew the location of, it was safe. But as soon as the chest was found, it became vulnerable.

The same goes for your data. When it's stored on your servers protected by multiple layers of security measures and a whole anticybercrime squad, it's safer, than when being moved around.

A lot can happen during the migration:

  • Inadequate Data Encryption: Not using strong encryption during data transfer exposes data to interception.
  • Poor Access Controls: Insufficient restrictions on who can access data during migration can lead to unauthorized access.
  • Lack of Monitoring: Failing to monitor data migration activities can prevent the early detection of a breach.
  • Human Error: Mistakes such as incorrect data handling or configuration errors can lead to data exposure.
  • Rush: A lot of times the decision about migration comes too late, and with rush employees are prone to error.
  • Insufficient Testing: Not thoroughly testing the migration process can result in vulnerabilities going unnoticed.
  • Legacy System Vulnerabilities: Older systems may have unpatched security flaws that are exploited during the migration.
  • Third-Party Risks: Dependence on external vendors without proper vetting can introduce security risks.

Is Data Migration Worth It?

Research shows that the innovation gap between insurers adopting technology smoothly and those slower to adapt will account for 37% difference in revenue, which is $17 billion.

How To Keep The Data Safe During Migration?

You need a plan.

To form a plan, you need time. Most data migration projects fail not because of errors or lack of funding, but because of making the call too late.

Abou-El-Ela Abdou Hussien proposes such steps in making data migration plan:

  • Identify the Legacy/source data to be migrated.
  • Identification any specific configuration data required from Legacy systems.   
  • Classify the process of migration whether manual or automated.    
  • Profile the legacy data in detail.    
  • Identify data cleansing areas.    
  • Map attributes between Legacy and Target systems.    
  • Determine the data and map to migrate to the historical data warehouse so-lution (archive).    
  • Collect and prepare transformation rules.    
  • Conduct disinfection prior Migration when required.    
  • Extract the data.    
  • Data Transfer along with limited clearance or standardization.  
  • Data loading.    
  • Reconcile data.

The data migration process usually consists of several steps:

Decision if the Migration is Necessary

It's easy to fall into the trap of "Everybody does it, so will I".

Sometimes data migration is not the way to go. Or it may not be the best solution at this moment.


Assessment of Confidential Data

All sensitive information within our systems must be cataloged to evaluate the financial and operational impacts of potential data loss or leaks. This mitigates risks by prioritizing the security of high-value data.

Legal Assessment: Ensuring Compliance with Data Protection Laws During Migration

When transferring data, particularly through complex data structures, it is crucial to adhere to stringent data protection regulations, laws, and maintain regulatory compliance.

To protect sensitive data you need to know both how data is being transferred, when is it susceptible to leak, how to prevent it, and which laws should you comply with. You need this knowledge in-house or expect it from your technology partner.

This section of the migration strategy emphasizes the importance of safeguarding migrated data, ensuring that all data protection measures are robust and capable of securing data throughout the migration process.

Development of Data Security Plans

The strategy must encompass protocols for secure data transfer and strict access controls, both for servers and data. 

This includes limiting permissions and clearly defining team roles to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

Maintaining Data Security

There are a few best practices to help maintain data integrity during data migration processes:

  • Use Robust Encryption Mechanisms: Encrypting data both at rest and in transit is paramount for ensuring data security.
  • Use Strong Data Access Controls: Implement strong authentication and authorization practices to restrict access to sensitive data.
  • Monitor Migration Process: Continuously monitor the migration for any unusual activities that could indicate a breach.
  • Conduct Thorough Testing: Test the migration process in stages to detect and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
  • Update Security Measures: Ensure all security software and protocols are up to date.
  • Involve Data Security Experts: Engage cybersecurity specialists to oversee and validate the security aspects of the migration.

After that, continuous monitoring is still needed.

Leveraging External Expertise

A seamless, safe, and errorless data migration in insurance requires three components:

  • experience in migrating data in insurance,
  • deep knowledge of the specifics of the insurance industry,
  • understanding 

The combination of all three components is rare, which is why selecting a reliable technology partner for your migration is a game-changer.

Partnering with Decerto to utilize Data Migrator solution might be a way to go. It will enable you to capitalize on our proven expertise in secure data migration within the insurance sector. This collaboration will enhance your security posture and streamline the migration process, ensuring both efficiency and compliance.

Summary

  • The volume of digital data in the insurance industry has grown exponentially, increasing the complexity of data migration.
  • Data migration involves transferring sensitive customer and policy information, with significant risks such as data breaches and compliance issues.
  • Effective data migration demands meticulous planning and robust security measures to ensure data integrity and prevent unauthorized access.
  • Insurance companies benefit from partnering with experts like Decerto, which offers specialized knowledge and tools for secure and compliant data migration.

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