Securing India's pharma industry from Cyber Risk
BioSpectrum Asia|October 2020
Increasing production in pharma manufacturing implies a higher convergence of IT and OT systems. While convergence between IT and OT brings about efficiency, it also expands the attacks surface. The only way to make this work safely is to have a unified, risk-based view of the IT and OT environments.
Dick Bussiere

As the world’s largest exporter of generic drugs, India imports more than 70 per cent of the necessary ingredients from other countries. This arrangement came to a standstill due to the supply chain disruptions caused by the global pandemic. The turn of events drove India to ramp up production of pharmaceutical ingredients at short notice to meet global demand for drugs.

To improve productivity such that urgent demand can be met, many Indian pharma manufacturing operators are increasingly connecting operating technology (OT) with IT systems to make production as cost-efficient and adaptable as possible. While the convergence of OT and IT systems brings about many benefits, it also creates new avenues for cyberattacks to occur in once-isolated OT environments. A recent Forrester commissioned study revealed that 97 per cent of Indian organizations suffered one or more business-impacting cyberattacks and that 67 per cent of those involved OT systems.

According to a report, India-based pharmaceutical facilities are listed as among the world’s most vulnerable and are very likely to suffer a cyberattack. In the same report, nearly 45 per cent of the devices within Indian pharmaceutical facilities were targeted by cybercriminals in 2019 and this number is steadily growing. Therefore, to prevent future attacks in pharma manufacturing, it is essential to identify security gaps that could impact the integrity of operations.

Some of the gaps that can be leveraged by cybercriminals:

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