Customer Stories

The Increasingly Data- and Customer-Driven Pharmaceutical Industry

By Troy Ament | October 12, 2021

Industry Perspectives

The pharmaceutical value chain has become increasingly digital, creating a complex network of workers, both remote and on-premises, and partners who regularly access disparate networks, clouds, applications, and mobile environments. This new chain demands a broader security framework to protect each companies’ valuable data. In addition, pharmaceutical companies are becoming increasingly customer-driven with data exchanged through customer and healthcare provider portals. All of this information is valuable to cybercriminals. Though there are a variety of cyberthreats that have emerged as a result of the deluge of new data that has resulted from the growing digital and customer-driven environment, there are also solutions and services that can better prepare and protect pharmaceuticals from more threats in the future. 

More Data, More Remote Work, More Risk in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical companies have similar corporate IT needs as organizations in other industries. The corporate IT network houses important data related to finance, intellectual property, human resources, product support, field support, research and development (R&D), and more. In order to protect sensitive data, corporate infrastructure needs a broad, integrated, and automated cybersecurity solution with end-to-end integration. 

As with other industries, pharmaceutical companies are seeing an increased need to access, analyze, and move vast quantities of data, or elephant flows. These enormous flows can represent years of research across a drug’s lifetime from R&D to manufacturing and distribution. The value of this intellectual property runs into billions of dollars, risking huge intellectual and revenue loss when disrupted. 

In addition, the massive surge in remote work is of particular concern to a pharmaceutical industry susceptible to cyberattacks. The increased use of personal devices and collaboration tools home networks compared to their more robust corporate and R&D equivalents is a serious concern to pharmaceutical manufacturing organizations. These networks are handling vast amounts of valuable data, confidential information, and intellectual property that are all attractive targets for cybercrime. 

A recent report highlights the activities of cybercriminals designed to capitalize on the chaos surrounding the COVID-19 situation in order to steal research and intellectual property, foremost through distributing ransomware designed to freeze organizations out of their own research.1 The greatest concern is with Emotet, a type of Trojan malware. The malicious code is primarily spread through spam emails (so-called ‘malspam’).2

Customer-Driven Business in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical manufacturers now routinely engage with customers in a highly targeted way, using social media and other engagement tools alongside web presence. They are also increasingly participating in the data exchanged through customer and healthcare provider portals. But these efforts to connect with and understand customers can be exploited by cybercriminals who manipulate social networks for profit or spread dangerous misinformation about medicines. One study found that more than half of the world’s social media accounts are fraudulent.3

Securing web properties and social media interactions is paramount for manufacturers, as the loss of data from potential customers in the early stages of the buying cycle, or sensitive personal data and medical records, could be devastating to a company’s reputation. Other factors such as website downtime and temporarily unavailable products due to production outages negatively impact customer experience and subsequently a brand’s reputation.

Making Data Protection a Priority

With all of this data and increased customer-driven business decision-making, pharmaceutical companies are finding themselves more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Establishing a holistic cybersecurity strategy with tools that help streamline this complex ecosystem into a single view for informed decision-making is imperative to securing these complex and often siloed environmentsThe security architecture must extend protection from research, prototyping, and approval to manufacturing, distribution, and the patients being treated. 

It must also encompass the entire cyber-physical environment of a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s data, data centers, carriers, users, critical infrastructure, and ecosystem, partners, distributed offices, and remote workers. This brings visibility and accessibility of data across systems to increase speed of response, while reducing the burden of alerts on IT/security staff and enabling effective reporting to the C-suite when needed. Fortinet technology provides pharmaceutical manufacturers with an end-to-end, integrated cybersecurity architecture that provides proactive protection against threats throughout the increasingly digital pharmaceutical value chains. 

Data- and Customer-Driven Pharmaceutical Industry

In a rapidly evolving pharmaceutical marketplace that relies on a complex web of partners, the constant flow of vast quantities of data and a new environment in which customers have more control and access, pharmaceutical manufacturers and their teams cannot afford to be slowed down or take a hit to revenue from cybersecurity issues. Working together, pharmaceutical organizations and Fortinet can secure the flow of data across connected IT and OT environments and within the complex, evolving pharmaceutical ecosystems necessary for success. At the same time, pharmaceutical businesses can remain secure and undisturbed throughout their increasingly digital, customer-led, and data-driven journeys. 

Keep up with the latest innovations in the pharmaceutical industry while protecting critical data with Fortinet’s pharmaceutical cybersecurity solutions.