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Cybersecurity in the Life Science Sector- Part 2

The prominent increase in Cybersecurity risks in the Life Science sector urges organizations to construct a risk management system to manage the risks effectively. It is pivotal for organizations to develop a Cybersecurity risk management system which is a key faculty for managing complexity and adapting changes to the new technologies.

123RF/ sompasong kramvichit

In the previous article, we have discussed how Cybersecurity plays a vital role in the Life Science sector, the threats and challenges faced by Life Science organisations. Further, we focused on Cybersecurity regulations in the Life Science sector to support and guide Organisations to build a Cybersecurity program.

The prominent increase in Cybersecurity risks in the Life Science sector urges organisations to construct a risk management system to manage the risks effectively. It is pivotal for organisations to develop a Cybersecurity risk management system which is a key faculty for managing complexity and adapting changes to the new technologies.  The emergence of new threats such as fileless malware is an increasingly common exploit. This malware is characterized by information that can persist within the device’s memory without even an actual file being downloaded or launched. While cybercriminals and their tools are constantly advancing in sophistication, many life science organizations struggle to keep up the pace with the rapidly changing nature of attacks. Among the other major threats, the theft of clinical trial data, confidential information, and commercially sensitive information is also at risk.

Identifying the Cyber Risks

Understanding the organization’s security landscape is essential as it helps to tackle cyber risks successfully.  Identifying the Cybersecurity risks in an organization helps to build an optimum cyber defense system to handle the cyber threats. Information theft which includes the theft of confidential and commercially sensitive information are the areas of greatest concern in the life science sector.

The loss of Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the most prevalent types of security incidents in the life science sector. This has a broad spectrum of damage, affecting employees, customers as well the organization’s reputation. These threats are only a marginal amount of the threat landscape for the life science sector. A bigger proportion of cyber threats involves assets in the production environment. Every production asset such as Human Interface Station (HMI), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), and other network components and equipment have their own associated vulnerabilities. To identify those vulnerabilities and their associated risks, a proper risk management system to monitor and administer the risks effectively is needed.

Cyber Risk Management System

The risk assessment involves assessing the associated risks in all the areas of the organization, starting from the shop floor till the supply chain logistics. The cyber risks associated in the different disciplines of the organization varies from a risk which is related to the technical configuration of an equipment to the policies that are incorporated.  One of the key ingredients in assessing the cyber risk in life science organization is to identify and define key areas such as corporate confidential information, software and systems, hardware, company websites, logistics and reputation. Once defined, the cyber threat landscape for each area can be defined, starting with holistic approach which can be later confined to a particular risk. Keeping the lifecyle aspect of an organization in sight, a suitable Cyber Risk Management System has to be developed.

What is a Cyber Risk Management System?

The Cyber Risk Management System is the act of prioritizing the Cybersecurity measures regarding possible consequences of vulnerabilities within the process. Cybersecurity risk management ensures that an organization keeps a tab on vulnerabilities within the process. It also involves the identification of risks while applying regulatory actions and rigorous solutions to ensure protection.

Cyber Risk Mitigation and Acceptance

Cybersecurity Risk Management helps to gain knowledge on threats that the organization has found through cyber risk assessments. This is will help prevent further incidents and eliminate the possibility of a cyber-attack. Through efficient and proper design of cybersecurity risk management, cyber-attacks can be mitigated as well as the unexpected cost or damage through cyber-attacks can be mitigated.  The risk acceptance may or may not occur in all organizations, particularly when a life science organization that has zero tolerance to cyber risks would try to mitigate the risk. Also, it depends on the type of the risk- if it is operational or organizational.

Why you need a Risk Management System

The ever-changing cyber risk landscape in life science organizations, particularly with the emergence of new cyber threats (such as fileless malware) urges organizations to decide on countermeasures. Cybersecurity risk management systems help to manage the risks more effectively as well as to prevent a cyber-attack. The cybersecurity readiness of every life science organization lies in its cybersecurity risk management system. If built properly, it delivers a suitable defense against cyber threats.

Ashok Sadasivam

Cybersecurity Consultant

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