Cybersecurity concerns are growing in the pharmaceutical industry, primarily stemming from the sector’s growing reliance on third-party suppliers, adoption of digitization and industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies, and shift towards hybrid/multi-cloud environments. The deteriorating threat landscape comes in the midst of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and development, and other breakthroughs in life sciences, thereby further escalating the danger levels posed by cybercriminals to this critical sector.
Sophos determined that the impact of cyberattacks on the pharmaceutical organizations includes lack of availability of critical systems and business disruptions that may halt research and development (R&D) and drug production, and loss of data including intellectual property (IP), clinical trial data and patient data. Cyberattacks can also influence loss of market position, bring about financial losses caused by lost revenue and additional costs of lawsuits, regulatory non-compliance and potentially hefty fines, loss of consumer trust, and reduced shareholder value.
Now, the COVID vaccine could be used as a very, very dangerous weapon because it gets distributed to millions of people across the world, according to Amado. “Of course, this scenario can be applied to any medication or drug, but it is an extremely unique challenge faced by the pharmaceutical industry that, if not managed properly, can result in fatal outcomes,” she added.
The convenience of digitization with its enabled analytics-led data management and technological breakthroughs has led legacy OT assets in the pharmaceutical industry to converge with IT networks. The re-alignment exposes the outdated OT systems to a wider threat surface resulting in IT/OT convergence, leading to the weakening of the cybersecurity posture at such installations.
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