India is the sixth country in the world where more and more pharmaceutical companies are being targeted by cybercriminals, a new report said on Sunday. Nearly 45 per cent machines in the Indian pharmaceutical organisations, more than four in 10 devices, were detected with malicious attempts, said cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. From 44 per cent of machines infected in 2017 and a 1 per cent increase in 2018, this year's number of detected attempts shows that nearly every 5-in-10 devices inside a pharmaceutical facility are now being targeted globally.
Amongst the countries which logged the most number of attacks are Pakistan (54 per cent), Egypt (53 per cent), Mexico (47 per cent), Indonesia (46 per cent) and Spain (45 per cent), with India at sixth position. "While it is a known fact that money-hungry cybercriminals can easily earn by attacking banks, we also observe that these hackers, as well as cyberespionage groups, are slowly paying a lot of attention towards the industry of advanced medicine," said Yury Namestnikov, Head of Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) Russia at Kaspersky. "They 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," he added.
The rise of internet-connected operational technology (OT) inside these pharmaceuticals also contributes to the widening attack surface inside this sector. The Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups which have been waging sophisticated spying over pharmaceuticals globally include Cloud Atlas and APT10, also known as MenuPass. "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," added Namestnikov.
In his own research, Denis Makrushin, Security Architect at Ingram Micro, revealed the risks that come along with the steady migration of hospitals from paper-based data storage to electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Widely-used EMR-systems open wider entry points for hackers targeting hospitals said the report.