Needless to say, it's easy to understand why the pharmaceutical business is so vulnerable to cyberattacks. This industry, which allocates impressive budgets for research and development (R&D), attracts hackers because it is built almost entirely on innovation and has access to highly sensitive intellectual property (IP) and patient data.
One issue that pharmaceutical/healthcare companies converge on is that the consequences of these cyberattacks are frightening and irreversible. Despite this, we regret to see that traditionally pharmaceutical companies do not work as hard as a bank or e-commerce company on cyber security. But the recent rise in cybersecurity threats has caused these large companies to pay more attention to possible risk, vulnerabilities and third-party exposures.
First, let's talk about the data that pharmaceutical companies hold. Private information about drugs, data about healthcare developments and technologies, as well as sensitive and personal patient information are also in the databases of these companies. Pharmaceutical companies must fortify their systems against cyber security risks because these data are also very valuable for governments. Without a question, losing control of such sensitive and personal data can have disastrous consequences for any company. The devastating effects we are talking about here will not only be economic, but also serious loss of reputation and trust will be wearing out for pharmaceutical companies. Already during a cyber attack, one of the biggest problems of companies is loss of reputation, and when we look at pharmaceutical companies in particular, it is vital that individuals trust the company to keep their health data safe.
American Merck & Co., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, suffered a cyberattack in June 2017. At first it was impossible to predict the scale of this attack and the damage it would cause to the company, but a few years later, Bloomberg prepared a report, revealing the seriousness of the situation. According to an employee's statement, after the attack, no work was done in the company for 2 weeks and 30,000 computers were affected by hackers. Merck said in its annual report in 2018 that the attack "disrupted its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales operations." Stating that he lost a total of $410 million in potential sales in 2017 and 2018, and on top of that he had to pay $285 million in other hack-related expenses, Merck was only able to recover $45 million in insurance payments.
A pharmaceutical company, like this one, can be harmed by cyber assaults in a variety of ways and suffer unpredictably high financial losses. After the attack, Merck announced in a statement that they attach great importance to cybersecurity, prioritizing cybersecurity training, collaborations and new applications to further develop and modernize their systems to protect against similar attacks in the future.
One factor that further increased the importance of cyber security was, of course, the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the pandemic, with social distance measures being taken all over the world and many people starting to work from home, it was inevitable for companies in all sectors to increase their cyber security measures.
Last year, the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and various cybersecurity authorities in the UK and Canada issued a joint cybersecurity alert statement that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting the COVID-19 vaccine and research. The warning also emphasized that if such a cyber-attack causes any delay, the lives of millions of people could be endangered.
With all of this in mind, it's safe to conclude that pharmaceutical corporations are under more pressure than ever after taking on the task of developing and delivering the Corona vaccine.
The Most Comprehensive Solution is Cyber Security Training
Cyber security is becoming a more important and mandatory issue for pharmaceutical&healthcare industry employees. Since hackers are constantly developing new attack methods and increasing their aggression, it is vital for industry professionals to be prepared for these attackers. If pharmaceutical industry personnel are not knowledgeable and educated about the risks they pose, valuable and personal data can easily fall into the wrong hands. Such vulnerability would create a huge opportunity for both competitors and cyber attackers.
If you're interested in secure coding courses, take a look at our coding for pharmaceuticals/healthcare trainings developed with our training partner Scademy:
Secure Coding Master Course For Healthcare Training
Secure Coding For Medical Device Manufacturers Training
As Bilginç IT Academy, we deliver trainings to numerous pharmaceutical and healthcare companies from Turkey and all around the world. In our cyber security trainings, our training professionals with sector experience, demonstrate real-life cases while sharing their knowledge with participants. Cyber security for Pharmaceutical companies is a really popular course in this industry.
If you want to be invincible in the face of increasing cyber security attacks by having your employees receive cyber security training specific to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, contact us today!