How pharma can defend against cybercrime
The high-stakes world of pharma, where intellectual property is worth millions, has always been a honeypot for cybercriminals--and the current attention to COVID vaccines is making the industry even more vulnerable.
In particular, the cloud permissions gap--the compromise of identities and privileged access caused by working in constantly scaling hybrid and multicloud environments--is leaving companies more and more susceptible to cyberattacks. In an industry dedicated to saving lives, the consequences could be deadly.
For example, in a recent third-party supply chain breach, cybercriminals inserted malicious code in updates for network management software installed by 18,000 customers. It enabled them to hack into the systems of tech giants like Microsoft, U.S. government agencies, power companies, hospitals, and educational and financial institutions.
This was achieved by exploiting user identities and permissions, something that’s becoming increasingly easy to do as more companies migrate to the cloud. The cost in insurance alone was about $90 million, plus the additional cost of lost intellectual property and damage to national security. Pharma faces the same threat.
Pharma and biotech companies suffer more data breaches than any other industry, and 53% of them are malicious, according to the 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute. The study also found that the average cost of a data breach in pharma was $5.06 million, that most breaches in pharma happen during cloud migrations, and that it takes an average of 257 days to spot and stop these attacks. Making pharma companies safe in the cloud has gone beyond the capabilities of in-house security teams.
What Pharma Companies Can Do
- Enforce least-privilege policies to limit how much an attacker can move around in a network.
- Make developer environments as secure as possible, including secure transfer and authentication methods.
- Prioritise managing and tracking identities and permissions through data analytics, automation and machine learning.
- Constantly monitor sensitive resources and high-risk permissions.
Identity and permissions management is central to security in the increasingly complex multicloud environment. Pharma companies looking to avoid devastating supply chain breaches must take full control of their network identities to stamp out the kind of compromises that put their sensitive data at risk.