The pharmaceutical industry is no stranger to cyber attacks. The Bayer attack, for example, was state-sponsored. The Chinese threat actor group Wicked Panda exploited Winnti malware, allowing attackers to access a system and pursue further exploits remotely. There are quite a number of pharma cyber attacks: breaches that the industry must learn from. While pharmaceutical companies have always focused on protecting sensitive data, nation-state hackers have their sights on the industry’s intellectual property.
Insider threat actors
As more cybersecurity incidents occur, the pharmaceutical industry needs to strengthen its cybersecurity posture. Cybercriminals target the industry for various reasons, including financial gain and research data. Losing valuable data, access to critical systems, or even disrupting operations is unacceptable. Thus, companies need a real-time incident response plan to combat these threats. In addition to strengthening the cybersecurity posture of the pharmaceutical industry, these cyberattacks pose a risk to national security and public safety.
One recent attack demonstrated the potential for supply chain infiltration by targeting the global supply chain of pharma companies. The attackers inserted malicious code into the software build cycle, infecting approximately 18,000 downstream customers. This attack also targeted government agencies and major firms. Cybercriminals use insider threat actors and malware to take advantage of the pharmaceutical supply chain and look for weaknesses in cybersecurity protocols. While most insider threats are malicious, many are benign.
Pharma companies face a new threat of targeted attacks in the form of identity theft. Cybercriminals can use personal data like addresses and banking information to create accounts on the dark web. Merck’s NotPetya attack is particularly jarring. The attack, which was linked to the Russian military, affected in-house API production, packaging systems, and R&D. This attack has increased the risk of cybercrime and the need for better security for pharma organizations.
As the pharmaceutical industry moves towards digital transformation, it becomes a prime target for cybercriminals. Pharmaceutical companies are more prone to attack because of the sensitive data contained in patented drugs and clinical trials. These criminals can use stolen data to commit identity theft or ransom it back to the company so that the vital information can continue to flow. As a result, this type of cybercrime increases, and pharmaceutical companies need to implement strong cybersecurity programs.
Developing an end-to-end strategy
Pharma companies are facing numerous cybersecurity challenges. For example, they face growing network complexity, the threat of nation-state-sponsored attackers, and the need to comply with regulatory requirements. These challenges make it vital to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to address all these threats and maintain data privacy. A comprehensive strategy should include several components, including technology, education, and awareness. It will help pharmaceutical companies control data and information assets while safeguarding sensitive information from cyber-attacks.
Regulatory requirements are increasingly challenging to meet. However, companies cannot afford to ignore the risks of cybercrime. Non-compliance can impact their costs, brand reputation, and customers’ lives. As regulations become more stringent, manually achieving network visibility and enforcing security controls becomes tricky. Pharma companies must balance the need to innovate while minimizing compliance risk. By investing in effective cybersecurity solutions, they can protect their brand and protect sensitive data from cybercriminals.
Pharma companies can protect patient data from attacks on their networks by implementing comprehensive security dashboards. In addition to these dashboards, hospitals and healthcare providers should protect their intellectual property, which may be accessible to the public.
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