Malware infections drop on World Cup match days

It’s a well-known fact that worker productivity dips during the World Cup. But there is a surprising upside to workers switching off their computers and dashing off to their local pub to watch the game. According to this Yahoo Sports article, malware infections dropped by 20 percent during World Cup match days in countries whose teams are playing in the World Cup.

“A day to day drop that dramatic can only happen when people get offline in massive amounts,” explains Ryan Gerding, a spokesperson for EnigmaSoft, maker of anti-malware software. In every country that experienced a drop, infections jumped back up the next day.

Interestingly, Russia is the only country not to experience a decrease in malware when its team is playing. On match days when the national team was playing, Russia experienced a 5.98 percent increase in malware infections.

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Revised 2018 Hurricane Season Forecast

By Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane forecasting team, and I.I.I. non-resident scholar. 

Colorado State University (CSU) released its updated outlook for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season today, and they are now calling for a below-normal season with a total of 11 named storms (including Alberto which formed in May), four hurricanes and one major hurricane (maximum sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater; Category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale) (Figure 1).  This prediction is a considerable reduction from their June outlook which called for 14 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.  Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity are integrated metrics that take into account the frequency, intensity and duration of storms.

 

Figure 1: July 2, 2018 outlook for the forthcoming Atlantic hurricane season.

CSU employs a statistical model as one of its primary outlook tools.  The statistical model uses historical oceanic and atmospheric data to find predictors that worked well at forecasting prior year’s hurricane activity and has shown considerable skill based on data back to 1982 (Figure 2).  The statistical forecast for 2018 is calling for a below-average season.

Figure 2: Efficacy of statistical forecast model at predicting historical Atlantic hurricane activity since 1982.

CSU also uses an analog approach, whereby the team looks for past years with conditions that were most similar to what they see currently, and what they predict for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-October).  The forecast team currently anticipates below-average to near-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Atlantic and warm neutral to weak El Niño conditions in the eastern and central Pacific.  This averaging of the five analog seasons also calls for a below-average season (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Analog predictors used in the July 2, 2018 seasonal forecast.

The primary reason for the reduction in the seasonal forecast was due to continued anomalous cooling of the tropical Atlantic.  Most of the Atlantic right now is much cooler than normal. (Figure 4).  In fact, current sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Atlantic are colder than any year since 1994.  In addition to providing less fuel for storms, a cooler tropical Atlantic is also associated with a more stable and drier atmosphere as well as higher pressure.  All of these conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.

Figure 4: Current SST anomalies in the North Atlantic.  SSTs are much cooler than normal across the entire tropical Atlantic.

CSU also believes that the chance has increased for a weak El Niño event developing to coincide with the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. El Niños tend to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity through increases in upper-level winds that tear apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop.  The dynamical and statistical model guidance is about evenly split between El Niño and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) conditions for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-October) (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Statistical and dynamical model guidance for El Niño.  Model guidance is about evenly split between El Niño and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (denoted by the arrow).  Figure courtesy of International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

Coastal residents are reminded that it takes only one storm to make any hurricane season an “active” one. For example, CSU correctly predicted a quiet Atlantic hurricane season in 1992.  The season, in fact, was very quiet, with only seven named storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane—but that major hurricane happened to be Hurricane Andrew, which tore across south Florida as a Category 5.

Philip J. Klotzbach, Ph.D. is Research Scientist, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University and an I.I.I. Nonresident Scholar. You can follow him on Twitter at @PhilKlotzbach

 

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How safe is your bike helmet? Virginia Tech and IIHS debut new safety rating system

With more people choosing to bike to work and for recreation, accidents and injuries are also on the rise.

Having the right bike helmet can significantly cut the risk of injury, but up until now there was not a standardized rating that consumers could use to determine the effectiveness of a bike helmet.  A new ratings program, based on research by Virginia Tech and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), changes that.

The program used more rigorous tests than required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for example, taking into account the angle at which a bicyclist’s head is likely to strike the pavement in a crash.

The number of stars assigned to each helmet represents how effectively that model reduces overall injury risk. Only four of the 30 helmets tested in the initial round earned a 5-star rating. All four are equipped with a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). MIPS creates a low-friction layer inside the helmet which helps to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.

With better ways to gauge helmet safety, there still remains the problem of getting people to wear them. By some estimates only 18 percent of riders regularly wear helmets.

 

The I.I.I. has facts & statistics on bicycle crashes here.

 

The Week in a Minute, 6/28/18

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every Wednesday on key insurance related stories. Here are the top stories this week: 

  • Northern California’s Pawnee Fire began on Saturday, June 23, and is threatening hundreds of homes in Spring Valley (Lake County). Meanwhile, the Creek Fire started on Sunday, June 24, and prompted evacuations near Happy Valley and Igo (Shasta County).
  • Florida’s Limerock Fire either destroyed or damaged dozens of homes in Eastpoint (Franklin County), with at least 175 residents displaced due to the Sunday, June 24, blaze.
  • Americans are reaching retirement age in worse financial shape than the prior generation for the first time since the Truman administration, a front page Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition story (June 23-24) stated.

 

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Business identity theft: An emerging threat

Individuals are not the only ones at risk of identity theft. Increasingly, businesses are contending with criminal use of their identity for tax fraud, credit card and other financial fraud, as well as having their websites and business name trademarks held for ransom.

A recently released report by the National Cybersecurity Society states that criminals are combining stolen data from data breaches with business intelligence to create large tax returns; wire transfers and ransoms which are fueling an underground economy of organized crime.

The IRS reported 4,000 instances of business identity theft cases in 2016. In 2017 that figure soared to 10,000, the largest year-over-year increase on record. Damages were estimated at $268 million in 2016, but curiously declined to $137 million in 2017.

The Insurance Information Institute has facts and statistics on identity theft here.

 

Sports-related injuries

Summer is here, and it’s time for both kids and adults to be more active. Unfortunately sports related injuries can also increase during the summer months. Our interactive chart shows that playing basketball led to the most hospital treated injuries, followed by biking and football, according to the latest available data from the National Safety Council (NSC).

Concern is growing about the risks of sports-related concussions as lawsuits filed by injured professional football players have generated national headlines. The problem also affects thousands of young people who engage in a variety of sports.

Among the sports shown in the chart below, ice hockey injuries had the highest percentage of concussion as the primary diagnosis, at 12% of all hospital emergency department-treated injuries. Snowboarding and water tubing followed, with 10% and 9% of injuries reported as concussion-related.

There were 191,396 swimming injuries treated in emergency rooms, with children between the ages of five and 14 suffering the most injuries.

Big nasty claims in the casualty sector

On June 12, Advisen held a webinar entitled “Big nasty claims. What are the large loss trends in the casualty sector?” To qualify as big and nasty, the casualty claims stem from injury and/or property damage resulting from incidents such as train derailments, chemical spills and food contamination, frequently involving multiple parties, and costing $100 million or more each.

Advisen’s large loss dataset yielded some interesting insights into trends in this area, and Jim Blinn, Advisen’s moderator, was joined by two Allied World claims experts, James Minniti and Paul DeGiulio.

Advisen’s dataset reveals that pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing, and machinery and electronics manufacturing are the top three industries involved in large claims, with public administration in fourth place.

Railroad accidents and derailments, a frequent source of large claims, are attractive to the plaintiffs’ bar because the technology is often available to have prevented the accident, but has not been implemented, said the panel.

Concussion litigation, another source of big claims, contains many coverage issues and coverage litigation is happening concurrently with trials. The National College Athletic Association has its first concussion trial this week, and a lot of people will be watching as the organization is expected to be a target for more lawsuits. Concussion injury defendants also include colleges and high schools.

When it comes to predicting which lawsuits may results in large claims, James Minniti said that looking at the plaintiffs’ lawyer’s name is a good bet, “you can be reasonably sure it’s going to be a bad case” if a certain top-notch plaintiffs’ attorney or firm is involved. Paul DeGiulio added that the venue is also important, for lawsuits tried in Philadelphia or Los Angeles the cost could be much higher.

 

 

 

 

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