Securing operational and information technologies across pharmaceutical networks
Securing operational and information technologies across pharmaceutical networks
Thanks to technological advancements, more and more pharmaceutical organisations are now embracing digitalisation. Such a move has allowed both on-premises and remote employees to collaborate over the cloud, accessing data and applications from anywhere and anytime. But while this shift toward digital brings many benefits, it also increases pharma companies’ cybersecurity risks they may not have previously contended with.
Because the pharma industry is home to high volumes of sensitive and confidential information, including those transmitted through patient and healthcare provider portals, the pharmaceutical industry is a prime target for malicious individuals. In fact, companies within the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are targeted—and successfully breached—more often than those in other industries, with 53% of these breaches resulting from malicious activity.
This is due, in large part, to the fact that many business and production processes are now dependent on global IT systems. Pharma companies also turn to outsourcing in the interests of keeping operations running continuously and for keeping costs down. Thus, guaranteeing the reliability and confidentiality of internal and external data is fundamentally important.However, outsourcing means handing over highly valuable intellectual property to a third party. Should this third party not have adequate cybersecurity measures in place, this leaves their IP vulnerable to seasoned cybercriminals.
This is terrible news for pharma companies, as a data breach can lead to manipulation and/or uncontrolled outflow of intellectual property. Drug patents, clinical trials, research projects, and other developments can be stolen in an instant if cybercriminals pinpoint even the smallest vulnerability in a company’s intellectual property security system.
Pharma cybersecurity also involves more than just the networks and machines directly involved in manufacturing, data processing, and other core business processes. You must protect all your operational technology from potential cyberattacks. Otherwise, OT breaches could have serious consequences, leading to overdose or even death of customers and patients.
With just a single breach, all the years spent building relationships with customers and stakeholders can crumble in the blink of an eye. This reputational damage can have significant financial consequences that can be difficult for any organisation to recover from.
With literal lives hanging in the balance, you as a medical device manufacturer must proactively address the following issues, in order to address cybersecurity risk and stay ahead of the technology curve in the long run.
Despite the importance of protecting pharmaceutical companies from fraudulent activity, the unfortunate truth is that measures like these are given low funding priority within the health sector. Because of this, most organisations simply don’t have the means to afford cybersecurity management systems or implement them in a way that sufficiently meets strict compliance requirements.
Another challenge when it comes to data security management is the typically big geographic distribution of pharmaceutical data infrastructure. Given that many data centres are likely located in various locations across a country or even across the globe, ensuring that every branch is up to date can overwhelm a company’s labour force.
For your company to survive in the pharmaceutical industry, your staff must know what to do in case of unexpected events such as power interruptions and natural disasters. It must similarly be prepared for the possibility of cyberattacks or data breaches.
Should any machines crucial to the quality assurance process go down or be tampered with, your customers and patients will be put at high risk of complications due to the resulting substandard quality of medical products. To prevent this, enabling emergency planning should be an important part of your cyber resilience strategy.
Having poor cybersecurity measures in place can have a significant impact on a pharma company’s earnings due to costly regulatory requirements and penalties arising from any regulatory violations. Worst of all, falling victim to cyberattacks can erode patients’, customers’, and stakeholders’ trust in a pharma company’s ability to safeguard confidential information.
To ensure that your company doesn’t end up in such a position, you must invest in reliable IT infrastructure and secure IT systems as early as possible. Doing so will not only protect you from damaging your reputation, but will also build up customers’ and stakeholders’ trust in your company’s capabilities, potentially leading to more business opportunities.
TÜV SÜD’s services facilitate a secure introduction of digital technologies to minimise your risks and gain access to international standardisation committees. We offer customised and tailored services both locally and globally to address the ever-changing security landscape.
With our various accreditations and our independent, agnostic, and unbiased engineering expertise, we can help your company foresee changes to the pharmaceutical industry. This will enable you to quickly adapt to new risks before they have a chance to exploit any vulnerabilities within your data infrastructure.
Indeed, we are proven and uniquely positioned to assist in this industry. In fact, TÜV SÜD is globally recognised as the brand to trust when it comes to addressing pharma cybersecurity concerns. Over the years, we’ve demonstrated time and time again that we’re more than capable of handling our customers’ ever-evolving cybersecurity needs.
Through our existing relationships, we are best positioned to understand your needs. And, through partnership, we are the best point of contact to enable change across your organisation.
Low funding priority within the health sector
Data breaches have affected many pharma companies in the past years due to cybersecurity budget deprioritisation. This is especially egregious for OT security measures. Such cost-cutting do more harm than good, as experts estimate that pharma companies lose an average of USD 31.1 million every year to cyberattacks.
Big geographic distribution of the infrastructure
Even a single vulnerable endpoint—whether it’s an employee’s laptop, tablet, or smartphone—can expose sensitive data to hackers. That means all the hard work and resources spent on costly research and development can be stolen in an instant if even one vulnerability slips through your security management process.
Protecting the operational technology
Systems that manage HVAC, security cameras, lighting controls, energy monitoring, Machinery and Factory Equipment, and other aspects of running a pharma company also act as potential entry points for cybercriminals. It’s crucial to secure and regularly update all endpoints across branches.
Enabling business continuity planning
A single cyberattack can disrupt or halt your operations. Whether in research and development, manufacturing and production, or sales and marketing, this downtime can mean failed fulfilment and distribution and, ultimately, lost revenues, contractual fines, and brand damage.
Using reliable IT infrastructure and secure IT systems
Cutting corners on your core IT infrastructure and systems can end up costing you more in the long run. It is important to remember, that you are only as strong as your weakest link. For any cybersecurity solution to work at full efficiency, it must run on reliable hardware and a network with exceptional uptime.
Mitigating value chain risks and strengthening enabler position
Your customers, patients, and stakeholders expect you to be proactive in addressing challenges. Investing in cybersecurity as a preventive measure will boost your authority as a company that can be trusted, especially when it comes to data privacy, as well as the safety of patients and end-users.
Pharma companies turn to TÜV SÜD for all their certification, assessment, and testing needs. With our services, we help organisations stay compliant with various international standards by evaluating their facilities and processes according to the following:
Using our state-of-the-art technologies and comprehensive testing processes, we’ll carry out a thorough pharma industry assessment of your current systems and solutions. This includes, but isn’t limited to, Industrial Cyber Security (SecureSafety) and Smart Industry Readiness Index (Siri). We’ll also assess how your practices fare within the context of Industry 4.0 Security.
Additionally, our highly skilled and knowledgeable experts can help make your entire infrastructure safer and more secure via technical due diligence, safety and security training, and data centre services that can address a wide array of pharma cybersecurity issues.
To secure digital communication and collaboration channels between partners and customers, we make use of Uniscon’s idGard. This is a trusted software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that allows for maximum levels of data protection using internationally patented sealed cloud technology. These features are key for protecting high-value data such as the intellectual property often handled by pharmaceutical companies.
Boosting cybersecurity awareness is key to keeping cyberattacks at bay. Training should not only be focused on security or IT staff, but among all employees across an organisation. To help achieve this, we offer the following classroom and online courses:
Overcoming hazards in connected healthcare
Transforming the way we track, manage and improve our health
Verifying and validating AI-based medical devices