Life Sciences Tips to Protect from Cyberthreats: Introducing Best Practices

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Life Science
October 13th, 2023

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Cybersecurity is of paramount importance in the life sciences sector due to the increasing reliance on digital technology. While digital transformation offers opportunities, it also exposes organizations to cybersecurity threats. Neglecting security can lead to data breaches and other vulnerabilities. To address these challenges, life sciences companies must establish robust security measures, including the following:

  • 1. Establishing the Baseline: Life sciences organizations should understand the impact of digital transformation on their operations, identify vulnerabilities, and involve stakeholders from various departments in assessing current processes, systems, and external partnerships to build a secure foundation.
  • 2. Effective Security Assessments: Regular security assessments are crucial to identifying weaknesses in systems and processes. These assessments should involve internal and external evaluations to ensure comprehensive coverage.
  • 3. Understanding Stakeholder Engagement: Balancing security and usability requires buy-in from stakeholders, both internal and external. Ensuring everyone understands the risks and collaboratively deciding on security measures aids in smoother implementation.
  • 4. Adopting Awareness Strategies: Creating a cybersecurity-conscious workforce through ongoing training and education helps employees recognize threats and follow security protocols effectively.
  • 5. Implementing Access Controls: Rigorous access control systems, encompassing physical and technological measures, limit access to authorized personnel, enhancing data security.
  • 6. Enhancing Application Security: Regularly updating and testing applications and software, as well as implementing protocols for reviewing new or updated applications, reduces vulnerabilities.
  • 7. Eradicating Insider Threats: Measures such as exit interviews, background checks, and ransomware protection protocols help identify and mitigate malicious insider threats.
  • 8. Strengthening Network Security: Network security should restrict access and employ robust encryption strategies to safeguard data transmissions.
  • 9. Disaster Preparedness: Preparing for cybersecurity breaches with a business continuity plan, regular testing, and emergency drills ensures effective responses and recovery.
  • 10. Managed Security Services: Leveraging external managed security services provides additional expertise and resources to identify and address potential threats, enhancing overall security.

In conclusion, life sciences organizations must prioritize cybersecurity to protect data, systems, and networks. Staying informed, implementing access controls, educating employees, and leveraging managed security services are key steps. Regular security assessments and disaster preparedness also play critical roles in maintaining robust cybersecurity in an ever-evolving threat landscape.

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Why is Cyber Security Important in the Life Sciences Sector?

The life sciences sector is at a unique point in its evolution where digital transformation has opened up new opportunities for the industry, while it has also left them exposed to potential cyber security threats like never before. This creates an urgency for life sciences companies to create robust procedures and best practices to ensure their data remains secure and meets all applicable regulatory compliance requirements.

Organizations that are not mindful of their security risks could expose themselves to data breaches, theft of sensitive data, and more. This makes it especially important for life sciences organizations to be vigilant in their security practices and have a comprehensive strategy in place to keep digital assets safe and secure.

Therefore, this guide will provide an overview of the measures that life sciences organizations should take to apply cyber security best practices and in order to protect their data and operations.

Establishing the Baseline

In today’s digital age, the life sciences sector has become increasingly dependent on technology and processes to deliver their products and services. With this increased dependence comes the potential for cyber security risks that must be addressed in order to avoid disruption and data loss. It is essential that life sciences organizations take the time to understand how digital transformation has impacted their operations, identify any vulnerabilities that may have been created, and explore the best practices that can help protect them from malicious cyberattacks.

Establishing a secure baseline should be the first step towards building a safe and secure network. Part of this process involves consulting with stakeholders from different departments, with the aim of understanding existing processes and protocols. This includes gathering information on what systems and software are currently in use, and assessing the level of access different authorities have to these systems. By having an accurate picture of the current landscape, life sciences organizations will be better equipped to identify and address any risks they may be exposed to.

In addition, life sciences businesses should consider how external partners may also have access to their systems. This could be through the use of contractors or vendors that handle sensitive data or manage connections with external providers. In this scenario, it is essential to ensure appropriate security policies are put into place to limit potential risks and maintain the integrity of the network.

Effective Security Assessments

Cybersecurity best practices require organizations to evaluate and adjust their risk levels in order to limit liabilities. This process begins by assessing the current systems, applications, and processes that are in place, and evaluating them for weak points which can be exploited. To ensure that security risks are identified accurately, comprehensive security assessments should be conducted on a regular basis.

Organizations can plan for such assessments by building and following detailed protocols. These protocols should detail exactly what steps need to be taken before, during, and after the assessment, and who is responsible for each step. Additionally, it is important to involve stakeholders from different departments within the organization in order to gain a comprehensive perspective on all potential weakpoints.

Once the protocols have been established, the assessment itself should be broken down into two key activities: internal and external. Internal assessments should analyze the security of core technologies within the organization, such as information systems, software, networks, and devices. These assessments can help to identify any weakpoints that need to be addressed, as well as potential threats that may have been accidentally overlooked. External assessments should evaluate how well the organization’s security measures protect their data from external sources, including hackers, malware, and other malicious actors.

Understanding Stakeholder Engagement

It can be difficult for life sciences organizations to strike the right balance between providing security and ease of use. That’s why having stakeholders from different departments within your organization on-board with security strategies is essential. Stakeholders should understand the company’s processes and protocols and be aware of any potential risks. It’s also important to gain buy-in from external partners and suppliers, as well as any customers you may have.

By getting all stakeholders involved in deciding the right security measures, you’ll find it easier to implement effective security protocols that prioritize both safety and user satisfaction. Making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to security will ensure a smooth transition when implementing new technologies and procedures.

Adopting Awareness Strategies

When it comes to maintaining good cybersecurity practices, one of the key elements is creating an enterprise security consciousness amongst employees. In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever for everyone to understand the potential risk involved in using the internet and interacting with digital devices. It’s only once the workforce knows what to look out for that effective cyber security practices can be implemented and maintained.

Ensuring that all employees have a sound understanding of cyber security risks requires sustained training and education. The training should include familiarizing staff with the company’s data security and privacy policies, as well as outlineing the do’s and don’ts when interacting with digital devices. Additionally, running simulated exercises which help staff better understand the threats they may face will help keep cyber security top of mind.

It is essential to note that cyber security awareness training must be ongoing, so that staff members stay up to date with the latest trends and methods used by cybercriminals. Regular updates on the current cyber security landscape and threats facing the organization should be provided to ensure that everyone stays informed and equipped with the necessary knowledge.

Implementing Access Controls

When it comes to security within the life sciences sector, one of the most important things to consider is who should have access to company systems and data. This process of evaluating access involves understanding the company’s protocols and processes, as well as what data needs to be protected. To ensure only those people who need access to sensitive information have it, businesses must implement rigorous and secure access controls.

Access controls can consist of both physical security measures that govern physical access to office spaces and data centers, as well as technological measures that dictate network level access. The most effective access control systems will incorporate both aspects. For example, a company may establish an authentication system such as two-factor authentication or biometric scanning, in addition to requiring physical access cards to enter certain areas. This ensures that only those who are authorized to access sensitive information can do so.

By taking the time to properly evaluate and implement access controls, organizations can protect their data, reduce the risk of unauthorized access, and ultimately better secure their business.

Enhancing Application Security

In this digital age, it’s very important to ensure that all applications and software within the life sciences sector are kept up to date. While many organizations keep their core technologies updated, there can be a lot of complacency when it comes to patch testing and regular security scans. It is important to ensure that any new or updated applications go through rigorous testing for bugs, which can help provide greater security assurance to your organization should a cyber attack occur.

Regular patch tests help ensure that applications are secure by identifying any possible vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Additionally, it’s important to have protocols in place to ensure that any new or updated applications are reviewed and tested by qualified personnel. This will help to limit the security risks associated with potentially compromised applications.

By taking proactive measures to protect applications systems, such as regular patch testing and vulnerability assessments, businesses in the life sciences sector can ensure that their systems are secure from malicious actors.

Eradicating Insider Threats

The life sciences sector is particularly vulnerable to malicious insider threats, as the access to sensitive data and systems can open up potential security risks. As such, it is important for organizations to take proactive steps to identify and mitigate any risks. There are several tactics that can be implemented to help protect against malicious insiders, such as:

  • Employee Exit Interviews: Inviting leaving employees to participate in an exit interview can help identify any potential risks they may be aware of or have been involved in.
  • Periodic Background Checks: Carrying out regular background checks on employees can provide an additional layer of security, helping to identify potential malicious actors.
  • Ransomware Protection Protocols: Establishing an appropriate ransomware protection protocol that can be followed by all staff is essential for preventing malicious actors from encrypting data or files.

Strengthening Network Security

Network security is an essential part of any cyber security framework. By limiting network-level access to only those individuals who really need it, organizations are able to reduce the potential for threats. At the same time, implementing robust encryption strategies can help to secure data transmissions.

Network access should be carefully restricted and monitored. This means ensuring that only employees who absolutely need access to core systems have it, while those with less critical needs receive only limited access to specific areas. It also means implementing authentication protocols to control who has access to sensitive areas, as well as strategies to detect and prevent unauthorized access.

It is also important to implement strong encryption strategies. Data transmissions should always be encoded with up-to-date encryption protocols, so that sensitive information is not vulnerable to interception or manipulation. Furthermore, SSL and TLS protocols should be used to ensure additional layers of protection.

Disaster Preparedness

When it comes to cyber security in the life sciences sector, it is important to plan for the worst. That means having a business continuity plan that takes into account any potential disasters that may arise from a cybersecurity breach. The key here is ensuring that the plan is tested regularly and updated when needed.

The plan should have contingencies that cover data backups, communication protocols during outages, response time frames, and recovery testing. It should clarify who will be responsible for managing each aspect of disaster planning, recovery, and communication to both internal and external stakeholders. Additionally, emergency drills should be conducted to ensure any weaknesses in the plan are identified and addressed.

Managed Security Services

Managed security services provide an extra layer of protection for companies in the life sciences sector. By utilizing services from outside experts, companies can ensure that their systems remain secure against potential threats. These managed security services provide greater insight and deep visibility to help identify and address potential issues quickly and effectively.

These services can be tailored to meet the individual needs of each organization, giving teams access to a range of tools and resources to ensure that they are not missing potential threats. This could include measures such as penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, risk assessment, and incident response planning. With managed security services, companies can better protect their networks and data from malicious actors.


Life sciences organizations must ensure they have the necessary measures in place to protect their data, systems, and networks. This includes staying informed on the latest security news, implementing effective access control plans, educating employees, and leveraging managed security services. Additionally, organizations should practice regular security assessments, involving multiple stakeholders, and plan for potential disasters.

By implementing these strategies, life sciences organizations will be able to effectively identify and protect against cyber threats. With the ever-changing landscape of security threats, it is essential that organizations stay up to date on best practices, and take a proactive stance when it comes to protecting their data.

FAQs about Cybersecurity Best Practices in the Life Sciences Sector

With the increased digital transformation of the industry, there are a number of security vulnerabilities that have emerged that can be prevented and managed with the right processes and protocols being put in place.

Security assessments should include the setting up of appropriate processes and protocols to limit risk, the involvement of stakeholders from different departments to understand company processes, the adoption of awareness strategies for employees, implementation of access controls, enhancing application security, eradicating insider threats, strengthening network security, disaster preparedness, and exploring the use of managed security services.

Tactics such as employee exit interviews, periodic background checks, and establishing ransomware protection protocols can be useful in eliminating malicious insider threats.

Existing core technologies can be examined to identify how to strengthen defenses where needed. Keeping applications up to date by regularly downloading patches, and running regular patch tests can help prevent security threats.

Limiting network-level access as much as possible will help reduce potential threats, while implementing robust encryption strategies is critical to secure data transmissions.

Best practices for planning and testing business continuity plans with regards to cyber threats is essential. This means thoroughly understanding the company’s infrastructure and operations to create informative plans, and regularly testing these plans to ensure they are up to date and viable.

Levering the expertise of outsourced managed security service providers can enhance a businesses ability to protect itself from cyber threats, as they can provide deep visibility and knowledge.