Cybersecurity Threats to Remote Workers In the Pharmaceutical Industry

By Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, Vice President, Global Field CISO at Fortinet

Industry Perspectives

Of all the changes brought on by the pandemic, remote working as a standard business model is probably the most transformative. The result for some was improved work-life balance, as 90-minute commutes were replaced by more exercise and breakfast with the kids. But this massive shift, including the shift from trusted computing to untrusted networks, also introduced new cybersecurity threats. With many employees no longer protected by company firewalls and security protocols, new risks were introduced, especially around cloud migration and endpoint proliferation. 

Protection encompasses the entire cyber-physical environment of your data, data centers, carriers, users, critical infrastructure, and ecosystem, including partners, manufacturing plants, research and development centers, offices, and, most recently, remote workers. The pharmaceutical industry is not immune to these new challenges, with both large and small pharmaceutical companies being targeted by threat actors. Pharma also faces significant cybersecurity challenges brought on by the increased enablement of remote and distributed work within the pharmaceutical industry.

What’s Valuable is a Target within the Pharmaceutical Industry

Cybercriminals are capitalizing on the expanded attack surface and “reversed” networks, caused, in part, by the increased number of remote workers within the pharmaceutical industry. With everyone distracted by remote work, cybercriminals see opportunities to attack and steal valuable research and intellectual property. One of their most well-known tactics involves distributing ransomware designed to freeze organizations and interrupt or steal research and developments. 

The Pharmaceutical Industry Faces the Challenges of Maintaining Security for Remote Working

Recent data breaches within the pharmaceutical industry have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost proprietary information and pharmaceutical research. The increasing array of endpoints that come with remote working opens doors to potential security breaches especially with increased cloud migration and device proliferation. Additionally, expanding partnerships, including R&D partners, represent a potential critical point of entry to malicious actors as they target bigger pharmaceutical businesses through weaker access points within their wider ecosystem. Without a holistic, end-to-end security solution, it is likely only a matter of time before becoming a target. 

Despite the reality of this risk-filled environment, there are many challenges for pharmaceuticals looking to implement advanced security measures. Perhaps the greatest challenge and threat is the enablement of distributed remote working, globally and at speed, as it adds risk and makes huge demands on security systems. Mass remote working may have become obligatory for many pharmaceutical workforces, but the need to integrate vulnerable legacy operational technology and the rising value of pharmaceutical intellectual property has seen the industry identified as a vulnerable and lucrative target. 

Last, but not least, of the operational challenges are the inconsistent attitudes and perceptions of risk and how those two factors can influence leadership’s appetite to protect vulnerable legacy operational technology. An increasingly digital pharmaceutical value chain demands a broader security framework to protect valuable data as it moves between a complex network of remote workforces and partners using disparate network, cloud, application, and mobile environments.

“Workforce mobilization has expanded the threat landscape dramatically, requiring organizations to evaluate and implement Zero Trust to protect all users and devices across the entire healthcare life science cyber edge.”  Troy Ament, Fortinet Field CISO Healthcare Life Science

Solutions for Remote Security in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Digital transformation and the rise of software-defined enterprises has created a persistent and growing cyber risk across a widening cyber-physical landscape. Pharmaceutical companies are focused on maintaining integrity across increasingly remote-based working environments. The key to integrity for remote workers is securing endpoints and access to distributed computing resources. Protecting this increasingly virtual and collaborative ecosystem, regardless of device or network, through the visibility of data and control of credentials is critical. Multi-Factor Authentication alongside actionable intelligence is a necessity for remote work security. Next-generation endpoint security provides real-time automated endpoint protection, detection, and response, while platform and firewall capacity enable safe throughput and processing of IP publicly identifiable information.

Beyond offering encryption of data in transit, via a VPN, a number of other features can help pharmaceuticals secure their cloud migrated remote workforce. Utilizing Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is essential for teleworking executives with frequent access to important and sensitive customer and operational data.1 Additional advanced threat protection involves analyzing malware and other suspicious content within a sandboxed environment before it reaches its destination to help prevent breaches.2 It’s critical for pharmaceuticals to provide secure wireless connectivity and access at remote work locations with full integration and configuration management.3


“The pandemic has created higher demand for additional internet-based connectivity into the sensitive supply chain, R&D, and OT networks, creating a need for IT and OT infrastructures to collaborate. OT cybersecurity has started to depend on more traditional IT facilities like patching, cloud-based threat intelligence, protection mechanisms, VPN and remote access; a clear sign that organizations need to start integrating OT cybersecurity into everyday cybersecurity considerations.” Zhanwei Chan, Global Head of OT/IoT Practice, NTT Ltd.

Looking Back and Ahead in Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical industries can only succeed and grow through the secure flow of data across connected IT and OT environments within complex, evolving ecosystems. Cybercriminals are targeting pharmaceuticals due to the increased focus on cloud migration and a recent increase in remote workers. These knowledge workers are indeed lucrative targets, often handling intellectual property worth billions of dollars. With global brand reputations and groundbreaking R&D on the line, speed and the pressures of non-disruption cannot come at the expense of security. These are challenges that should not sit solely on the shoulders of IT. 

Natural Sense of Place: Huus Gstaad

By Shereen Shabnam

Someone once said that to get a true feel of Switzerland, you need to visit Gstaad. Having been all over Switzerland in the last few years, we continued our search of unique Alpine experiences and had the most memorable holiday at HUUS Gstaad, a warm homely hotel nestled among the rolling peaks of the Bernese Alps with the best views in all of Gstaad.

I travelled with my family and we loved the friendly and down to earth staff who went above and beyond to make us feel at home the minute we arrived at the hotel with some value-added experiences that got my daughter realise her dream of river rafting.  

The hotel encourages us to go outdoors and explore the beautiful region in as many ways as possible. My daughter was given other host of professionally-led activities like trekking, climbing and rope courses to choose from.

We visited well-known world-class ski resorts, saw stunning scenery from cable cars, met friendly locals and met other global jet-setters and families in the evenings in the cosy lobby of the hotel while playing board games and sipping the best hot chocolate one can get in Switzerland.

The hotel has views of soaring mountain ranges and cloud-free blue skies set in a landscape that’s as rich in natural beauty as it is adventure. When inside, the hotel’s architectural and interior design is characterised by the Alpine traditions, using locally sourced woods and stones to create the authentically rustic, Alpine style

After a week of work travel, my favourite part of the hotel was the sauna and pool at HUUSspa for some relaxation and wellbeing.  There are more than 2,000 square meters of wellness facilities spread across three floors for guests to enjoy at Huus Gstaad.

At the hotel’s restaurant, we enjoyed the flavours of the Alpine world trying out oozy cheese fondue, seafood dishes and some contemporary cuisine while enjoying the views through the restaurant’s panoramic windows and the expansive terrace. Breakfast offers over 200 choices of staples, organic and health foods and my daughter learned how to press fresh orange.

My favourite memory of the stay at Huus Gstaad is the unparalleled views of the great outdoors from both the lounge and the lounge terrace, the crackle of the log fire and the many cosy corners around the HUUS library and the live music in the lobby.

Every moment at Huus Gstaad left an imprint on our hearts and it is a place that beckons you back to the alpines. Personally I look forward to my next Gstaad experience with warm memories of mountain adventures and hot chocolate by the Huus Gstaad library and fireplace.

#GlobalTrendMonitor  #Huus #Gstaad #Switzerland #Swiss #Hotel #Staycation #Holiday #magazineUAE #magazine #mediaUAE #UAEbusiness #myDubai 

Sanctuary for the Senses: Corinthia Hotel London

By Shereen Shabnam

Going back to London and stopping in the city before seeing family is always a good idea … and the place you stay in makes the London experience that much better. In my case, there are three hotels that I select each time, one of which is the Corinthia Hotel London, rated amongst London’s finest 5-star luxury hotels.

The palatial property combines traditional grandeur with modern freshness and the luxuriously redesigned Victorian destination is ideally located in the heart of London, a short walk from many of the city’s major attractions.

The primary reason I selected this property was to experience a day at ESPA Life at the Corinthia, which is a new generation of spa designed for those seeking an exclusive haven dedicated to relaxation, health and fitness.

Spread over four floors and covering 3,300 square metres in the heart of London, ESPA Life at Corinthia offers revolutionary lifestyle programmes, incorporating complementary and alternative medicine and targeted fitness and rehabilitation services that focus on sports training, detox, sleep, weight loss and general vitality.

After a rejuvenating facial and massage, I rested in a tranquil lounge.

Trying out one of ESPA Life’s 17 oval treatment pods was the highlight. Each treatment uses the highly efficacious and natural ESPA product range and combines both new and indigenous techniques of the world’s most renowned therapies to deliver a unique treatment offering.

An extensive thermal floor area provides a dedicated space in which guests can completely relax and unwind. Alongside a swimming pool, there is a vitality pool, glass amphitheatre sauna, steam room and heated marble loungers. ESPA Life at Corinthia is also a destination for grooming and fitness needs with a salon and a state-of-the-art gym.

The enormity and grandeur of the spa is simply breathtaking and after a relaxed time there, the best place to head for a meal is the Massimo Restaurant & Oyster, offering modern Italian cuisine, and the musically inspired Bassoon Bar.

The Northall restaurant, serves the best in British produce throughout the day and having breakfast there in the mornings every day was a delight. The new Garden Lounge offers all-day dining options in an al fresco David Collins Studio designed garden landscape.

Housed within a Victorian building, Corinthia Hotel London features 294 rooms, including 40 suites and 7 penthouses, offering sweeping views across London’s most popular landmarks.

Cutting-edge technology in rooms was handy considering the beautiful ambience motivated me to write a few creative articles while staying there. The meeting rooms allow for recording, mixing and broadcasting from dedicated media rooms.

Corinthia London is a great place to stay in the heart of London and I particularly took advantage of its location to walk and watch popular theatre productions and spend quality time in the bookshops in between sampling lovely tea offerings at Fortnum & Masons.

It is a great point from where every part of London with attractions is within easy reach and the staff are helpful in terms of directing you to places that interest you most. It is definitely a spa destination I would go back to as well for rest and relaxation.

#GlobalTrendMonitor  #Corinthia #London #Hotel #Staycation #Holiday #magazineUAE #magazine #mediaUAE #UAEbusiness #myDubai