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  • A female scientist tests chemicals in a lab and records findings on the computer.

According to one recent study, the frequency of cyberattacks aimed at health care and other life sciences organizations grew by 2390% between 2009 and 2017. Over the last 10 years, approximately 38% of all attacks targeted these types of companies – by far the highest number of any industry.

The Growing Threat of Cyberattacks

Whether its data breaches, ransomware attacks, crypto-jacking or threats to connected and mobile devices, the threat is pervasive and growing exponentially. Here are some alarming statistics: Every day, around 230,000 malware samples are created by hackers. The amount of malware created will continue to grow in the coming years and the creation of trojans, potentially unwanted programs and other threats would continue to enter targeted PCs and cause more harm than ever.

The financial impact of cybercrime is astronomical. Another study states that by the year 2021, the costs related to the damage caused by cybersecurity breaches may reach $6 trillion dollars. And, cyberattacks are the primary reason that around 60% of small companies to go out of business.

Hackers and cybercriminals around the world are increasingly targeting businesses in life sciences. Their activity is motivated by the sheer volume of damage that they can do and the high value of the intellectual property, financial and other information that can be stolen or ransomed. The prospects are scary. Yet, life sciences companies can – and absolutely must – proactively protect and defend their operations.

Instituting critical cybersecurity protections is critical for any type of business, but is particularly important for companies in the life sciences industry. Putting preventative measures in place, however, first requires you to understand three basic concepts: risk governance, risk identification, and security maintenance. These are the lynchpins of a cybersecurity plan that will protect your business and facilitate achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Related article: How CMOs Can Leverage the Cloud & Pass Benefits onto Customers.

What You Need to Know About Risk Governance

Effective risk governance requires implementing a series of complementary protocols that work together to mitigate cyber-threats. To help shield the organization from external threats and to mitigate the damage caused by such attacks, it’s imperative that risk management responsibilities are shared across all business groups. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; risk governance ensures that each individual link is actively implementing risk mitigation practices defined by the requirements of the organization.

Here’s an example of how risk governance should be addressed with a team effort… First, the defining requirements for representation and participates should be defined for each business unit. This effort should be led by the Chief Security Officer, or security team, and the compliance and legal departments. Then, each unit must define their operational requirements, including steps necessary for regulatory compliance in terms of safeguarding sensitive data. Your IT security team can then be tasked with jobs like identifying, communicating, and providing recommendations for certain types of security risks which may impact the organization’s ability to satisfy the requirements and maintain compliance. They would also be responsible for testing security controls and their effectiveness, while working with business units to define core success metrics. The operations team may be responsible for implementing those security controls, managing the technical components of the roll-out, and making sure that everyone is complying with the policies put into place.

But the most important thing to understand is that success is impossible without total buy-in and participation from everyone in the organization, from the leadership on down — cybersecurity is a shared responsibility!

Why Risk Identification Is Crucial for Life Sciences

At its core, the term ‘risk identification,’ in the context of cybersecurity, means exactly what it says. The company must intentionally, and continually work to identify the ever-evolving types of cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities facing it. Then, it must put a series of actions and solutions into place to address the identified risks and vulnerabilities in the most holistic way possible.

It’s a concept that reminds us that there is truly no “one size fits all” approach to cybersecurity. Every industry faces its own unique threats, and every business within those industries has its own specific risk profile.

A recent study revealed that for most pharma and biotech companies, assets like financial information, intellectual property, and clinical research are most likely to be targeted by hackers and cybercriminals. Alarmingly, rogue nation-states are now the most sophisticated and well-funded source of cyberattacks in this sector. This is why it’s critical for life sciences companies to identify the exact threats which pose a challenge in order to develop and promptly implement and maintain the best defenses.

The Essential Nature of Security Maintenance

Data security maintenance is a concept that allocates cybersecurity resources for assets that are the most vulnerable – and which carry the highest levels of risk if compromised. Essentially, it’s a way to make the most economical use of cybersecurity resources while ensuring adequate protection moving forward.

This concept also reminds us that cybersecurity is not something you can “do once and forget about.” New threats are emerging every day and life sciences organizations must be vigilant and proactive to stay one step ahead of perpetrators. If cybersecurity is something that your company only discusses once a year, the risk surface is far greater than you probably realize – meaning that a successful attack becomes more likely.

Ongoing security maintenance requires constantly reassessing security protocols and adopting new tools and strategies to make sure that your organization remains vigilant in preventing intrusion from the latest threats. In addition, intermittent ethical hacking helps to identify vulnerabilities that may need remediation. With these pro-active measures, companies are able to mitigate threats before they happen and decrease the amount of related loss.

Related article: How Cloud Validation Simplifies Compliance for Life Sciences Industry.

Outer Edge Technology: Your Data Security Provider

While the connected world that we’re now living in has undoubtedly made our lives better in numerous ways, it’s unfortunately made them more dangerous, too. This is particularly true for biotech, pharma, and other life sciences companies that are increasingly subject to cyberattacks. Sadly, security threats may no longer be a matter of “if,” but “when.” However, by embracing and implementing critical cybersecurity strategies, your company can help prevent attacks altogether and mitigate the consequences of successful attacks.

If you’d like more information about critical cybersecurity strategies and defenses, or if you have additional questions that you’d like to discuss with one of our IT experts, contact Outer Edge Technology today at 1-844-OET-EDGE.

By |January 24th, 2020|Life Sciences, Cybersecurity|Comments Off on Cybersecurity Needs to be a Priority for Life Sciences Companies

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