There has been a significant impact on the global pharmaceutical industry due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In India, pharma exports were pegged to take a hit of $1.5 billion.
Yet the very nature of the industry underlines its growing importance right now. As the world rushes to find a vaccine for COVID-19, the pharmaceutical industry needs to step up to the challenge. That will involve navigating the challenges that this crisis has thrown when it comes to remote working.
Building trust remotely
The pharmaceutical industry remains particularly susceptive to cyberattacks – healthcare ranked fifth among the top ten industries with maximum malware attacks in 2019 according to the Seqrite Annual Threat Report 2020. Confidential patient data is a prized commodity for threat actors who act with the belief that security systems in healthcare are likely to be poorly secured.
Remote working thus throws up a new set of challenges for the pharma industry.
Why are pharma companies at Risk?
Pharma companies are at the forefront of researching vaccines and drugs including patient trials for COVID-19. Hence, malicious actors are keen to steal research data and intellectual property (IP). With clinical studies being done on patients, their personal information is at risk as well. Studies around the Coronavirus can be actively tampered to develop Fake Applications for enterprises leading to a shift in launching a new style of attacks.
Experts who write their observations about the pharma industry have, from the past few months, underlined the rising attacks under the pretext of the COVID-19 theme. Prominent among these are Phishing/Spear phishing campaigns and ransomware & info-stealing malware.
The remote working scenario presents diverse challenges for any industry and given the data being handled in the pharmaceutical sector, the challenges simply compound.
Working remotely automatically implies increased use of personal devices — home networks are vulnerable to cyberattacks far more, when compared to office networks and pose a serious risk to privacy and security.
- Personal devices are likely to have poor cybersecurity hygiene.
- Personal devices and Work devices use potentially unsecured (same) Wi-Fi Router/Access Point (AP).
- Wi-Fi Router Security Settings (WEP/WPA) and weak passwords.
- pose risks.
- Collaboration tools being used have been found to have vulnerabilities.
- Information Classification and Handling of personal devices could be a challenge.
- Lack of
- File and disk encryption on personal devices.
- Multi-Factor Authentication to access applications.
- Backup of official data on personal devices.
Are remote workers patching enough?
The onset of remote working provides attackers with a window of opportunity to scan and identify potentially unpatched systems, secure in the knowledge that many remote workers may not be patching their systems as regularly. Cybersecurity teams must broadcast and inform remote workforces about new security updates and push these updates as regularly as possible.
The danger of data leakage
Since the majority of the workforce is working from home, there are question marks over data handling, verification and leakage. The problem can be further exacerbated if the workforce is using personal devices as there are fewer controls. Pharma companies contain a significant amount of confidential data and any mishandling of this data can lead to consequences such as fines. IT teams must ensure that employees are following laid out rules about data usage while working remotely. These rules could include mandatory usage of VPNs, using robust cybersecurity solutions, etc.
Dangers of a data breach
The danger of a data breach is a major challenge faced by the remote workforce in pharma companies. Data breaches can imperil a pharmaceutical company in ways such as:
- Litigation – Pharma companies who incur data breaches may find themselves at the risk of costly litigation battles with aggrieved customers, governments or compliance agencies, leading to brand and reputational damage
- Loss of public trust – The healthcare industry is largely dependent on public trust to succeed. A data breach can be catastrophic for a pharmaceutical company as it can lead to a complete loss of public trust
- Threats to health and wellbeing – Data breaches could lead to patient data being leaked to malicious sources enabling a very real threat to health and wellbeing.
Pharmaceutical companies searching for security solutions to secure their data remote can consider Seqrite’s Endpoint Security Cloud and Encryption solutions which help prevent data leakage and secure data for remote workforces.
Seqrite offers the solutions
Seqrite Endpoint Security Cloud, powered by GoDeep.AI, provides a simple and comprehensive platform for organizations to manage security for multiple endpoints remotely. Equipped with comprehensive cloud-based endpoint security and control and key security features such as Active Directory Integration, Antivirus, Anti Ransomware, IDS/IPS, EPS Cloud provides complete security over remote endpoints.
Seqrite Encryption solves concerns about data leakage while Working From Home by creating a highly secured operating environment that increases business process efficiency by keeping valuable data intact. The comprehensive encryption suite offers robust data protection for desktops and servers, onsite and offsite, and is compliant with all data protection laws. Critical data with a mobile workforce remains safe even outside the office networks.