The dangers facing biotech
Does your enterprise handle any biotech or pharmaceutical-adjacent field, product, or service? Guess what, you’re likelier than ever to suffer a cyber attack or major breach event.
Biotech is a branching field, rooted in critical infrastructure and public safety (medicine, vaccines, healthcare). During the COVID pandemic, the need to both develop and distribute a vaccine was at the forefront of the health industry worldwide. But COVID and the subsequent need for treatment created chaos which strained supply chains, lives, and international economies. Unfortunately, ransomware gangs and threat actors love chaos, capitalizing on it and placing a burden on the healthcare industry.
Because biotech is in some way tied to things like medical advancements and infrastructure, it’s inevitable that the industry too will be a major target of cyberattacks. A myth that plagues organizations of today is that they’re too small or irrelevant to attackers, and that’s never been farther from the case.
Reasons why your biotech networks are at risk
It’s not only a matter of industry. Cybersecurity threats are a wide web of potential problems, because we all utilize technology in some capacity. More so, the world is increasingly reliant on technology to manage daily tasks and jobs, with the blossoming of remote networks/infrastructure. This leads to a powderkeg of potentially unsecured internet-facing surfaces, ripe for exploitation.
Consider smart machines, for example, devices using the internet in some capacity. That is an “attack surface,” and without security, a node for possible data loss. In other words, cybersecurity threats, even when not explicitly focused on a biotech organization, still create risk profiles.
But it’s a far bigger problem than a populating family of smart machines/devices. Consider this:
- Ransomware gangs are always amping up activity and targeting any vulnerable network, from businesses to even school networks
- Downtime is incredibly costly and enough to bankrupt an organization, accompanied by brand damage and long-term financial bleeding
- Increasingly complex social-engineering campaigns focus on contacts who have limited experience or knowledge of them
- Human error which creates serious internal risk, speculating to make up at least 60 percent of cyber threats and breach events
If your biotech organization relies on the internet or technology in any capacity (and I’m going to assume you do), these threats still impact you, even indirectly.
Why do biotech and pharma organizations face significant attention from threat actors? The same reason anyone is targeted: money. But biotech in particular is vulnerable since it offers valuable services, with the production and advancement of medicinal treatment. It’s critical enough it needs protection, and threat parties are more than happy to take advantage where they can.
You also need to consider cybersecurity competency within the framework. If a breach event occurs (see: any malicious attack which disrupts services), do you know the recovery time? Is there a response in place? What about backups? Consider, too, the unique value of medically-adjacent information, which is sought after on internet black markets. Hackers will want something so precious, because it’s precious to you and your client base.
“Well, yes, we have IT!”
Even the best IT staff can’t shoulder the burden of numerous breach events on their own. That leads to systemic problems like burnout and fatigue. More so, there’s still an expanding shortage of IT and cybersecurity experts, even as malicious cyber-threats evolve on a constant basis. Therefore, believing that your IT can solve anything is a bold assumption, one that leads to problems instead of solutions.
How do you solve these expanding issues, then?
Better IT and cybersecurity for biotech
Revitalizing your approach to IT and cybersec solutions is not an overnight thing, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult. If you have enough in-house resources and experts, restructuring IT to remain aware of biotech-adjacent threats is a good start.
However, if you lack those internal resources, looking to external partners is another option. Third-party providers, who take care of overall IT needs and approach companies with full-scale solutions, are increasingly popular. They essentially handle the resource and expert shortages many biotech SMBs face.
It depends on what you need, and the timeframe for it. Third parties (like an MSP) can expedite your defense roadmaps, simultaneously providing insight-driven plans for the needs of your biotech organization. You have to ask then, in the face of the rampant cyber threats out there, how much time do you have to spare?