Innovation or Obliteration? How the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Can Secure Itself from Attack

Industry Transformations4 minutes readJun 14th, 2018

The pharmaceutical industry is challenged with keeping up with the constant development of groundbreaking research, alongside the barrage of new innovations, regulations and digital technologies. As the sector charges full-speed into the digital age, how it responds to these stimuli, and how it adapts its business models, will be crucial in determining its success in creating the supply chains of tomorrow.

I recently attended FlyPharma Europe to gain greater insight on how these topics are gaining traction in the aviation industry. At the show, I discussed how cybersecurity, especially around the advent of cloud computing in the pharmaceutical supply chain, was the biggest challenge that many businesses in the industry are facing.

Becoming cybersecure

Many companies in this sector are turning to cloud technology in a bid to achieve on-demand scalability and timely agility that they need to balance the varying needs of their customers. In fact, by 2019, 80% of supply chain interactions will have transitioned online and be cloud-based, but with the migration to cloud, this makes them attractive targets for hackers.

Costing $4m a breach, it’s not difficult to grasp just how much devastation a cyber-attack can wreak on an organisation. According to a study by KPMG, 19% consumers would completely stop shopping at a retailer after a breach, and 33% would take a break from shopping there for an extended period, putting colossal strain on revenue profits.

So why is it that these cyberattacks are successfully seeping through? I’ve noticed that these are largely down to management and costs. Stringent regulation and tighter price controls have forced many firms to find cost-saving measures, while trying to pay close attention to evolving compliance needs.

However, this holds repercussions. For example, next-generation anti-virus is an add-on that requires tireless hands-on management. Much like whitelisting, this can result in false positives – the number one hidden cost. How lenient management should be when delegating what is spent where depends on how protected they want to be against cyberattacks and how much they want to spend on needless security measures.

The Solution

Cyberattacks come in many forms, but some companies – whether pharmaceutical shippers or air cargo – are still able to catch up to hackers’ methods. So, what are these kinds of companies doing to better protect themselves?

As organizations continue to experience an increase of attacks, both on-premise and in the cloud, the trend seems to be that the attackers are exploiting vulnerabilities that come with innovations. As risks pile up with new technologies, organizations need to keep up to date with the threats and trends that drive them before jumping on the bandwagon. It’s not just enough to have antivirus either, 77% of attacks are using fileless techniques, and because of this it’s crucial to recognize the sophistication of tools being exploited to steal data.

The best practice

The key to successfully implementing the correct tools to best combat cyberattacks will always begin with training, and then implementing tools that are consistent across the whole enterprise. Once safeguards are in place to protect critical assets and services, cybersecurity tools need to be deployed to monitor the environment before a potential breach occurs. Indeed, failing to plan is planning to fail, so organizations must have a restoration plan in place to handle the impact of a cyberattack in a timely manner should it happen.

In a world where pharmaceutical companies are increasingly facing various demands in the supply chain, the attention, cruciality and complexity that cybersecurity necessitates must not be forgotten.

As more and more companies move to the cloud, they must not economise on the required spend that is needed to safeguard from cyber-attacks. Furthermore, organisations need to ask themselves whether they have a 360 view of the threats that could entail, in order to make the best-informed decision to deploy a new tool or not. To pull everything together, leadership needs to support strategies through the entire organisation, educating personnel and understanding that successful supply chains of the future, start and end with employees.

Tags-   CyberSecurity Pharma Supply chain

About The Author

Karim Jawhary

Karim Jawhary is the Senior Industry Director, Life Sciences and Healthcare, at Unisys. He brings over 15 years' experience in the technology industry, with deep expertise in Cloud Computing, SaaS, Big Data and Security solutions.