The pharmaceutical sector in India is the sixth most-affected industry of its kind in the world in terms of cyberattacks.
Attempted malicious attacks hit almost 45 percent of the sector’s devices in India last year, an increase from 44 percent the year before. Only the pharmaceutical industries in Pakistan, Egypt, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain were hit harder than India.
“They [cybercriminals] are slowly realising that pharmaceutical companies house a treasure trove of highly valuable data such as the latest drugs and vaccines, the newest researches, as well as medical secrets,” said Yury Namestnikov, who heads the Global Research and Analysis Team in Russia for Kaspersky, a cybersecurity firm which conducted the report. “Their attack techniques and behaviour also prove that these attackers’ apparent goal is to get their hands on intellectual properties related to the latest medical formulas and research results as well as the business plans of their victims.”
Kaspersky has previously issued warnings to the health sector about the vulnerability of data to cyberattacks in the country. “The industry may not be as targeted like banks, but perhaps it may soon be the apple of the eye for cybercriminals,” said Stephen Neumeier, managing director for the Asia Pacific at Kaspersky. “Not today, but given the pattern of attacks we’re seeing, it will soon be.”
For Indian pharmaceutical companies, there are already numerous cracks in their cybersecurity armour. It was reported earlier this year that just five to ten percent of Indian pharmaceutical companies possess security systems strong enough to protect information from hackers and many do learn about a breach for several months. “If a company is researching and creating a particular medicine composition for years, a hacker can steal the data or formula and sell it in black market,” Sal Krishna, who chairs the Global Cybersecurity Forum, said at the time, noting that “current systems don’t have security control and visibility in place to immediately detect the attack and respond on a real-time basis.”
With this in mind, it is unsurprising that Indian pharma has been so hard hit by cybercrime. Going forward, vigilance against such attacks and implementing preparatory measures are the need of the hour to ensure that their data is kept safe.