Industry-Specific IT Considerations for Biotech BusinessesAugust 4, 2022
Biotech businessesare typically engaged in activities such as conducting studies, developing pharmaceutical products or building medical devices. These types of activities frequently involve working withboth valuable intellectual property (IP) and personally identifiable information (PII), making themextremely valuable targets for hackers.
Because theyhandle a lot of valuable and sensitive information on a daily basis, it is critical that they implement elevated IT infrastructure security to reduce risks to a minimum and do everything possible to mitigate security threats. You don’t want competitors to find out the details of what you are doing or to steal personal information on study participants. It is imperative that youidentify all possible threats, make sure you are adequately protected, and implement a robust data security management solution.
Address External Threats With Perimeter Security, Access Controls, and Privacy Protection
Perimeter security refers to ensuring that unauthorized external individuals can’t connect to your servers in the first place. To accomplish this, what your IT department needs to do is keep your operating systems, network software and communication applications up to date with the latest security patches. Firewalls are an essentialmechanism for keeping unauthorized entities out. Your policies for logging into your systems also need to be robust and able to reliably identify authorized users.
Other Access Control Measures
Two-factor authorization can help secure access to your IT infrastructure. For example, an authorized user might be required to submit a code sent to his personal device in addition to their password before being allowed access.
Users can be required to access your systems only from specific computers or devices, and employees may only be able to use applications that they need to carry out their work.
Data and files can be protected the same way so that users can only access data they need for their job. A comprehensive set of centrally managed security policies protecting your networks from unauthorized access can help to secure your IT systems.
When you have data containing PII, additional measures centered on that data are often justified. If the data contains medical information, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may apply. Leaking data that contains PII can result in substantial fines, liability and loss of reputation.
Protecting PII can be carried out by restricting access to the files, anonymizing the data or encryption. Files with PII can have additional passwords required for access and access logs can be kept to record who accesses the files.
Anonymizing the data means taking out the personally identifiable elements, such as names and addresses. Many studies only need the anonymous data and such data is lesssensitive.
Encryption is another effective tool for the protection of data containing PII. Decryption keys can be distributed on a limited basis and the decryption process can be tracked to identify users.
Mitigate Insider Threats with Layered Protection and Zero Trust Policies
Insider threats come from individuals who are authorized to access your systems. These are often disgruntled employees but they could also be suppliers, customers or partners who were given access for various reasons. The motivation of insiders who misuse their access can be personal gain, the acquisition of privileged informationto gain an advantage, or just plain sabotage.
Layered protection offers effective barriers to insiders by not giving them top level access. With this approach, the least secure layers are used to hold commonly available data while the most secure layers contain the most sensitive information. Monitoring for unusual activity can complement such protection.
Policies establishing zero trust zones, where access is limited based on many factors, can add security as well. Such factors can include devices, IP addresses, locations and firmware as well as log-in credentials.
No matter what measures you choose to put in place, the need for security and for protection of PII has to be balanced against useability. You can achieve a high level of data security, but if the data is hard to access for employees who need it, costs will rise and efficiency will suffer. You may wish to get expert help to achieve the right balance in your data security management strategy.
Need Help with IT Support?
A managed IT services provider can help set up a system that meets the needs of your biotech company and can manage the protective features as well. GSDSolutions offers Bay Area IT support and has the right expertise to help biotech businesses with their security requirements.
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