IoT, other connected technologies will accelerate security threats to life sciences, healthcare industry, predicts Unisys

Organisations will increasingly leverage technological expertise across industries while taking more holistic approach to security.

cybersecurity healthcare Internet of Things (IoT) life sciences supply chain Unisys Corporation

Life sciences and healthcare companies will follow the lead of other industries and integrate connected technologies including Internet of Things (IoT) and intelligent scanners across their ecosystems as a means to improve operational efficiencies, enhance supply chain visibility and deliver better patient care – but the increasing use of such technologies will accelerate security risks, according to a new set of predictions from experts at Unisys Corporation.


“Market forces that to this point have primarily affected other industries are now demonstrating the potential to transform the way life sciences and healthcare companies operate,” said Jeff R Livingstone, PhD, vice president and global head, Life Sciences and Healthcare, Unisys. “For example, if the pharmaceutical industry looks at the processes and best practices being used in other types of manufacturing, they can apply and adapt those technological advancements in how they manufacture, provision and supply therapeutics. Ultimately, there is a lot of interconnectivity between industries that can be taken advantage of.”


Consequently, Dr Livingstone predicts a fundamental consumer-driven shift based on the “retailisation” of industries such as healthcare, which incorporates expanded roles for security, and which in turn facilitates a shift from on-premise data management to the cloud.


Prediction: The “retailisation” of healthcare – based on the IoT – will fundamentally alter how life sciences and healthcare organisations conduct business


As industries such as retail have already started using connected technology like intelligent scanners and e-readers to track and ship their products, so too has this technology demonstrated potential for life sciences and healthcare.


Unisys predicts that in the coming year, connected technology will take a more prominent role within the supply chain, as sensor-based track-and-trace technology will allow companies to verify product shipping information, monitor temperature issues and adjust routes based on environmental factors affecting drug viability, as well as using cross-platform analytics based on tracking data to help improve route efficiencies and deliver critical medications to people who need them, when they need them.


Prediction: Continued rise in cyberattacks and shift in how patient data is accessed will require a multi-tiered approach to cybersecurity


According to a recent report, in the second quarter of 2017 life sciences and healthcare organisations suffered more security incidents than any other industry, surpassing the public sector. Simultaneously, as more providers use personal or hand-held devices to access data, it means extremely valuable patient data is more vulnerable to cyber threats. In the coming years, the industry will see a rapid rise in ransomware and DDoS attacks that threaten patient data, as well as the business reputations of the organisations trusted to protect it.


These security risks are not lost on consumers; the recent Unisys Security Index found that a large majority of US respondents registered concern about the possibility of hackers or malicious intruders gaining access to internet-connected medical devices such as defibrillators, pacemakers or insulin pumps belonging to them or someone they know.


As a result, Unisys predicts companies will shift toward a multi-tiered, holistic approach to security. To ensure proper security, all devices will require equally strong protection, including personal devices that interact with multiple networks. While it will require more than one type of protection, those that are best poised to adapt will start with a thorough security assessment to analyse network and devices, which in turn can determine how different aspects of security can work together best for the business.


Prediction: Compliance and certification move to the cloud


Historically, legacy hardware and a lack of centralised mandates for certification have hindered migration to the cloud in life sciences and healthcare. This has largely been based upon a general distrust of allowing critical IP and patient information “outside the gates”.


Unisys predicts that advancements in cloud-based software and security, coupled with proper guidance, will help providers more quickly adapt to ensure up-to-date compliance based regulatory needs and help bridge the gap between compliance, security and privacy.


“To prepare for what’s to come, first you have to take a step back,” Livingstone said. “Completing a thorough review and assessment of one’s technological and security needs, as well as data and compliance management as it relates to IP, patent and regulatory issues, life sciences and healthcare companies will make one well-positioned to succeed in the digital future.”