Cybersecurity in Life Sciences in the Time of War and Pandemic: 5 Ways to Mitigate Risk

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The Life Sciences industry has undergone a massive transformation in the last two years. Decentralized clinical trials, new digital channels of engagement for healthcare professionals, patients and employees, remote monitoring of assets and automation – these are some of the many items that have moved to the top of the CIO agenda. While there is increased pressure to quickly adapt to a new way of working, the current enterprise architecture and IT environment create vulnerabilities to cyber-attack.

Cyber-crimes are not alien to the Life Sciences industry. For 11 consecutive years, Healthcare and Life Sciences have topped the list of data breach costs. According to the IBM-Ponemon Institute 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average total cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24M. That’s up from $3.86M in 2020. The average cost of a data breach in the Healthcare industry in 2021 was $9.23M and in the Life Sciences industry in 2021 was $5.04M. Several high-profile attacks in the last decade targeted the Life Sciences industry: the Dragonfly attack in 2014 (which targeted manufacturing industrial control systems); the NotPetya attack in 2017 (which was linked to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and disrupted Merck’s vaccine production, resulting in damages in excess of $1B); the WannaCry attack in 2017 (which affected the healthcare systems in 150 countries), the Winnti attack in 2019 (which affected Roche and Bayer) and the security breach of the European Medical Agency in 2020.

Due to the value of health data and intellectual property, the impact to society and the highly profitable global Life Science business, organizations have always been lucrative targets for cyber criminals. Recent developments in the last three years have expanded the attack surface even further and increased the industry’s vulnerability to cyber-attacks.

The ISG white paper Cybersecurity in Life Sciences in the Time of War and Pandemic: 5 Ways to Mitigate Risk explores the impact of geopolitical events and technology advances to the Life Sciences industry and ways enterprises can mitigate cybersecurity risk.

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About the authors

Sameer Nanda

Sameer has more than 20 years of experience in Life Sciences industry.  He has deep Life Sciences domain experience with a proven track record of leading and managing large, global multi-cultural teams to deliver complex digital transformation. In his focused career in Life Sciences, he has worked extensively in US, Europe and APAC region with global pharmaceutical clients as a trusted advisor for critical transformational initiatives.  He has keen interest in -  advanced analytics/BI, automation in Life Sciences industry, digital health strategy/transformation, patient engagement and architecture/ strategy around - Master Data Management, promotional compliance, medical affairs, close loop marketing and remote patient engagement.

Alok Tripathi

Alok works as a Consulting Manager at ISG with 9+ years of experience in developing Cyber Security Strategy, assessing Cyber Security posture against various frameworks (CSA, NIST, etc.), development and implementation of IT Controls to ensure compliance standards (C5, ISO, etc.), experience with Cloud (private/public) security capabilities and solutions. He also has a good understanding of various cloud security configurations, technologies and frameworks.

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