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Cigna Pekin

INDUSTRY: Healthcare / Insurance

BUSINESS: One of the largest publicly-owened employee benefits organizations in the United States and throughout the world. Its subsidiaries are major providers of employee benefits offered through the workplace, with products and services including health care, group life, accident and disability insurance, dental, vision, behavioral health, and pharmacy.

SCOPE: United States & worldwide

SIZE: 26,500 employees

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Provide effective IT security and regulatory compliance risk mitigation for global network.

OPERATIONAL HURDLE: Manual vulnerability scans lacked visibility into CIGNA’s infrastructure, and failed to easily identify servers and vulnerabilities that jeopardized security and compliance efforts.

SOLUTION: CIGNA turned to Qualys’ on demand Web service appliance to automatically identify and more effectively mitigate system vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.


  • Automated on-demand security and vulnerability audits
  • Highly accurate vulnerability and configuration scans
  • Easy to deploy, manage and operate
  • Scalable enough to secure CIGNA’s global network
  • Comprehensive reporting capability for technical teams, business managers and auditors
  • Integrates with other areas of CIGNA’s risk management program, including patch and change management, and compliance tools
Envelope Print

CIGNA Finds Good Therapy

Builds A More Efficient Risk Management, Streamlined Compliance, and System Security Program
CIGNA home page

CIGNA Corporation and its subsidiaries constitute one of the largest publicly owned employee benefits organizations in the United States and throughout the world. In 2005, its revenues totaled $16.7 billion, and as of June 30, 2006, it held shareholder equity of $4.7 billion. Its subsidiaries are major providers of employee benefits offered through the workplace, with products and services including health care, group life, accident and disability insurance, dental, vision, behavioral health, and pharmacy. CIGNA appreciates healthy outcomes, and its ongoing commitment is to ensure that the 42 million people it serves receive the highest levels of care and well-being.

As a provider of employee benefits, as well as a public company, CIGNA must observe a bevy of regulatory compliance mandates, from state laws to federal laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). “We deal with probably every regulation you can imagine. We focus a lot of our efforts on regulatory compliance,” says Craig Shumard, chief information protection officer at CIGNA.

“Qualys gives us the ability to detect our vulnerabilities across our network and really ensure that we have the level of security and compliance we need.”

Craig Shumard,
Chief Information Protection Officer at CIGNA Corporation

Craig Shumard

CIGNA has embraced technology, and is constantly rolling out new products and services to help employers better manage their benefits offerings, and give their employees access to round-the-clock information regarding their employee benefits. An example is the company’s portal that gives consumers the ability to conduct side-by-side comparisons of the costs and quality of health care providers, and even the cost of prescriptions at various pharmacies. These efforts, among others, helped CIGNA to rank number 17 on the 2006 InformationWeek 500 (an annual listing of the top 500 technology innovators published by InformationWeek magazine). Also, Shumard recently was honored with Information Security magazine’s Security 7 Award, an award bestowed on the world’s top seven security professionals each year.

It should come as no surprise that a sizable portion of Shumard’s efforts, and those of his security team, focus on ensuring that all of their systems are adequately secured, and that compliance controls—designed to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of regulated and other forms of sensitive information—remain in place. A crucial part of those efforts includes the ability to quickly identify systems that have configuration errors, lack the latest security patches, or are not being maintained to internal security governance standards.

Lack of Visibility. Increasing Complexity.

Some time ago, CIGNA relied heavily on a vulnerability scanner that proved difficult to manage, and couldn’t identify—let alone properly scan—all of the servers in CIGNA’s environment. “We managed to get the job done, but it required too many ad-hoc and manual scans, and it was difficult to prioritize the vulnerabilities that really mattered,” says Sridhar Srinivasan, information protection manager at CIGNA.

To bolster the vulnerability management portion of its overall risk management program, Shumard and his team knew that they needed a vulnerability scanner that could be easily deployed, was capable of scaling throughout its vast geographically distributed network, didn’t require an expensive infrastructure to maintain and secure, was highly accurate at spotting misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, and could identify potential rogue systems and devices that crept onto the network. “The complexity of our environment continued to grow, and so did the security threats. We needed something that would help us to really hone in on the vulnerabilities across our network, regardless of the operating system or platform,” Srinivasan adds.

Automated Vulnerability Management

CIGNA selected Qualys, thus enabling the company to streamline control of its entire vulnerability management lifecycle: asset discovery, vulnerability assessments, track security fixes, and meet federal, state, and internal policy regulations. "We were looking for a true black box solution that required only an IP address and would run from there," says James Lemieux, CIGNA's information protection director. That's what CIGNA found in Qualys. The on-demand solution delivered as a Web solution requires no software or costly infrastructure to deploy, and is fully managed by Qualys. "We don't have to keep the devices up to date. Qualys takes care of all the care and feeding of the device," says Lemieux.

Qualys provides CIGNA what it needs to help keep systems secure and compliant—even from fast-moving threats and zero-day vulnerabilities, giving CIGNA a way to quickly assess its complex infrastructure to make certain that the security and mitigating controls are in place. “It’s especially helpful when zero-day exploits come out. We can very quickly go to Qualys, and more often than not, they’ll have a signature before anything even hits,” says Lemieux.

CIGNA’s initial deployment consisted of multiple Qualys Enterprise scanner appliances. That quickly grew to 18, so every facet of CIGNA’s distributed network can be scanned whenever needed. “We use Qualys to examine all of our vulnerability issues; we look at risk configurations, default installations of applications; we look at the whole gambit of Qualys’ strong knowledge base when we do any type of scanning,” says Srinivasan.

“Before Qualys we had an ad hoc process; Qualys brought much stronger control and visibility into our processes.” James Lemieux, Information Protection Director

Added Efficiencies Strengthen Security, Operations and Regulatory Compliance

The thorough Qualys scans not only provide the ability to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities and misconfigurations; its comprehensive reporting can be tailored for security teams, operations, business executives and auditors to show security readiness and compliance. “One reason we selected Qualys is the quality of its reporting capabilities. We are able to customize the reports for our specific business purposes, and we don’t have to rely on trying to explain the risk, based on what the security industry and software vendors are saying about the vulnerability,” adds Srinivasan.

The use of Qualys also has helped to build greater unity between CIGNA's IT operations and security teams. In the past, Shumard and his team sometimes were viewed as a source of business friction. "It was often, 'Oh, here comes security again, doing scans. They're going to give us some big report,'" says Lemieux. "Now we're really viewed as a partner. And the other business and IT operation units look at us and understand that we can realy facilitate system remediation, clearnup, and help them to identify servers that no one knew were out there."

The ease of Qualys’ deployment and manageability, along with a powerful application programming interface, has enabled CIGNA to embed Qualys as an integral part of its risk management program. CIGNA has integrated Qualys with various security tools and processes throughout its organization. For example, Qualys is tightly integrated with Symantec’s Enterprise Security Manager, or ESM. This integration enables CIGNA to automatically coalesce ESM’s detailed system configuration information with Qualys’ extensive vulnerability report to provide a holistic status of the system’s health. CIGNA is also investigating ways to more closely integrate Qualys with its patch management and intrusion detection systems.

“In the past, all of this information was fragmented. Now, when we give the reports to operations or our patch management group, we’re able to pull our security information together and provide a complete picture,” says Lemieux.

Ongoing, On-Demand, Security Checkups

To remain competitive, CIGNA is constantly releasing new products, applications, and Internet-based services. It is steadily forging new relationships, and integrating with customers and suppliers. “Every product or application that you can see over the Internet has to go through Qualys before it’s allowed to go live,” says Lemieux.

The same is true for any customer or vendor where there’s a network connection. Since installing the Qualys solution, CIGNA not only has found its compliance efforts to be more efficient, but it has garnered greater insight into its security posture. “It’s allowed us to be very focused on the risks that matter, as soon as they surface. We’re able to really focus our energies on the true vulnerabilities that need our attention. Qualys has really helped us to raise our level of compliance across our entire environment,” says Shumard—and that’s a healthy outcome for everyone.