How to Strengthen the Pharma Industry’s Cyber Security Defense

How to Strengthen the Pharma Industry’s Cyber Security Defense

The pharmaceutical industry relies on innovation and R&D investments and IP, clinical, and patented data. This article will explore three critical areas for the pharma industry to strengthen its cybersecurity defense and prevent cybersecurity breaches.  

Threat detection

Cybersecurity is essential to any organization’s overall strategy. A multi-layered approach to security includes foundational protection, innovative tools, and a culture of security and data privacy. For example, for a pharma company to be truly secure, it must take the time to assess its current cyber posture and implement a robust cybersecurity strategy in addition to evaluating your controls and capabilities.

While existing pharmaceutical regulations are helpful for general healthcare organizations, they often do not specifically apply to the pharma industry. Therefore, a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is necessary to protect digital assets. Cybercrime can also affect pharmaceutical companies, spreading dangerous misinformation about the safety and efficacy of medicines. In addition, the growing number of industrial IoT devices and the Internet of Things increases the attack surface. With these risks, pharmaceutical companies must implement a robust cyber security program and secure their networks and infrastructure.

Instilling a culture of cybersecurity

Instilling a culture of cybersecurity is imperative for organizations in the pharma industry. In this ever-changing digital age, cyber-attacks are more prevalent than ever. As a result, pharma organizations must take steps to minimize their internal and external risks. Cyberattacks aim to steal intellectual property and valuable data from pharma companies. These stolen data can provide a competitive advantage to competitors and provide an opportunity for cyber attackers to demand a ransom.

Cybersecurity programs focus on detecting destructive behaviors and cultural challenges. Microsegmentation of workforces reveals risk groups and personas. Purposeful reinforcement from senior executives is vital to getting workforce buy-in. Leading organizations conduct surveys and assess workforce attitudes and behaviors to create comprehensive change plans that address individual and organizational risk factors. Consider using these methods if your company isn’t sure where to start.

OT/IoT threat detection

As the connectivity between IT networks and OT environments grows, the risk of cyber attacks also expands. Using IoT devices to manage manufacturing equipment, monitor industry trends, and collect data has the potential to expose valuable intellectual property or, worse, to disrupt production processes. Cyberattacks targeting these systems can also put workers and manufacturing equipment at risk, and compromised OT systems can provide backdoor access to corporate networks. Cyber risk has affected IT infrastructure but is moving beyond the IT landscape to include operating technology. The rise of IoT and the proliferation of connected devices makes operational technology vulnerable to cyberattacks. IT networks may contain 50,000-500,000 endpoints, but the number of IoT devices is approaching millions. By 2020, there may be 30 billion devices connected to the internet.

Today’s pharma operating systems don’t run standard security-client software, and OT systems are not taken offline to perform security upgrades. Therefore, to prevent potential infiltrations, the industry must deploy next-generation firewalls to inspect and block attacks and harden its HW/SW cyber-physical environment. With this defense, Bayer can stay one step ahead of threats and reduce operating costs.

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