Better technology, strategy top avenues to improving cybersecurity

KPMG has released its 2017 Cyber Healthcare & Life Sciences Survey, outlining current cybersecurity measures and threats.

Cyber-attacks have grown in scale and severity, due in part to the lack of protective measures in place around technology systems. This survey outlined current barriers and views on security to improve systems integral to providing patient care.

"The life science industry is increasingly engaging patients directly through web portals and apps to help them better manage their conditions, but this opens the door to new risks," said Michael Ebert, a KPMG partner who leads cyber for the Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice.

The survey included a report from 100 U.S. tech, data and security executives from life science companies. Findings included:

  • Hackers are mainly looking for financial information in attacks (69 percent), followed by patient and clinical research (63 percent).
  • Government-sponsored hackers were reported as the biggest threat to cybersecurity from executives working in technology, information and security at medical device and drug producers.
  • Better technology (36 percent) and an overarching strategy on data collection/protection (28 percent) were reported as higher priorities for medical device makers.
  • Pharmacy organizations listed stronger processes (24 percent), more funding (22 percent) and better technology (22 percent) as the biggest needs for improving cybersecurity.
  • Increased staffing was only seen as a priority in 9 percent of respondents as crucial in improving security.

"Some nations desperately want intellectual property to support local life sciences organizations without incurring R&D costs and challenges," said David Remick, a KPMG partner who works with life sciences companies.

"Drug and medical device makers have significant volumes of valuable financial and clinical information," said Life Sciences Advisory Leader Alison Little. "Recent cyber events targeting the life sciences industry demonstrate that market capitalization can be immediately eroded depending on the nature of the cyber-attack and extent of damage."