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Strengthening Cybersecurity in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Sophos is helping the pharmaceutical industry to address the cybersecurity risks arising out of the sector’s growing reliance on third-party suppliers, IoT, and hybrid/multi cloud environments.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most critical, with people across the globe relying on it for their daily medications. Pharmaceutical organizations hold data worth billions of dollars, including classified intellectual property (IP), R&D data on pharmaceutical advances and technologies, proprietary information on drugs and development, and patient and clinical trials data – making them an attractive target for cyber criminals.

The sector’s growing reliance on third-party supply chains, accelerating use of the cloud leading to hybrid and multi-cloud environments, increasing adoption of IoT, and increased visibility due to COVID-19 vaccine development have all contributed to a surge in cybersecurity risks for this sector.

The pharmaceutical sector relies on a vast network of subcontractors or third-party vendors for various critical activities like R&D, clinical research, supply of APIs, and other key ingredients for generic drugs, warehousing and logistics, freight forwarding, and more. Because most of these third-party vendors have direct access to pharma manufacturing systems and data, any breach in the third-party ecosystem is a direct threat to the pharma organization. Therefore, minimizing cybersecurity risks to pharma supply chains is of utmost importance.

In order to streamline their complex processes and to become cost efficient, pharmaceutical companies are investing more in cloud technologies that include hybrid cloud and multi-vendor environments. Multi-cloud environments are giving rise to issues of data integrity and managing identities and permissions within the cloud. With the explosion of human and non-human entities requiring access to cloud operations, inadequate visibility and controls in cloud environments can be a significant blind spot for organizations and also the reason behind many security breaches.

Digitization and Industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies are other factors opening up new cybersecurity concerns for the pharmaceutical industry. While these technologies deliver the benefits of automation and optimization of production environments, they also compel legacy operational technology (OT) devices and systems in pharmaceutical manufacturing to converge with IT networks, suddenly leaving them exposed to the wide threat surface resulting out of the IT/OT convergence.

Sophos’ preventative and active protection tools help to address these cybersecurity challenges, as well as offer the pharmaceutical industry powerful protection against ransomware, insider, and other threats. Here’s a quick summary on how Sophos solutions achieve this (For a detailed solution brief, download the PDF):

1. Securing the network perimeter

Sophos’ cloud-edge firewall delivers all-in-one protection by integrating the best-of-breed technologies:

  • High-performance IPS and ATP
  • Sandboxing and machine learning technologies
  • Integrated web application firewall
  • Advantage of SophosLabs Threat Intelligence

2. Protecting sensitive data at rest and in transit

  • Sophos Central Device Encryption offers full disk encryption for Windows and macOS devices.
  • Sophos ZTNA continuously validates user identity, device health, and compliance before granting access to resources.
  • Sophos Email offers granular control of data breach prevention policies with seamless integration of encryption.
  • Sophos Mobile delivers device management capabilities, containers, and market-leading encryption to keep sensitive business email and documents protected on mobile devices.

3. Securing hybrid/multi-cloud environment

  • Sophos Intercept X for Server with XDR secures business-critical virtual machines and virtual desktops from the latest threats.
  • Sophos Cloud Optix delivers asset and network traffic visibility for AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
  • Sophos MTR, our Managed Detection and Response service, receives telemetry from Sophos products running on AWS, Azure, and GCP and continuously monitors your cloud environments, analyzing and triaging security events.

4. Minimizing the risk against third-party supply chain attacks

  • Sophos Intercept X with XDR uses AI, exploit prevention, behavioral protection, anti-ransomware, and more to deliver comprehensive protection. The XDR functionality helps to automatically identify suspicious activity across endpoint and servers.
  • Sophos ZTNA ensures safe third-party supplier access to your systems by validating user identity, and device health and compliance before granting access to resources.
  • Sophos MTR works around the clock to proactively hunt for, validate, and remediate potential supply chain threats and incidents on your behalf.

5. Managing privilege access

  • Sophos Cloud Optix includes an Identity and Access Management (IAM) visualization tool that analyzes complex, interwoven IAM roles to visualize IAM relationship. This allows quick identification of over-privileged access and creating right-sized IAM policies before they are exploited in cyberattacks.

6. Adopting zero trust network access approach

  • Sophos ZTNA controls access to apps and data based on user identity and device health. It overcomes the challenges and limitations of remote access VPN, offering a better and more secure solution for users anywhere, especially remote workers in the pharma sector affected by the pandemic.

7. Securing against insider threats

In the context of pharma, insiders are not only the organization’s employees but also the suppliers, logistics partners, and contractors who require constant access to the organization’s systems and resources.

  • Sophos Firewall with Security Heartbeat™ allows next-gen endpoint and network security to continuously share telemetry and health status; detect compromised / unauthorized endpoint device; and provide an automatic response with dynamic firewall rules and lateral movement protection.
  • With Sophos ZTNA, individual tunnels are established between the user and the specific gateway for the application they are authorized to access, and nothing more – providing the benefits of security, control visibility, efficiency, and performance.

8. Implementing security awareness training

  • Sophos Phish Threat educates and tests users against phishing, credential harvesting, or attachment attacks, through automated attack simulations, quality security awareness training, and actionable reporting metrics.

Learn more

For more information, read the full solution brief here. We also provide a detailed reference card on how Sophos solutions help the pharmaceutical industry to meet the cybersecurity challenges.

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