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Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru April 25 , 2022
Pharma companies are striving to protect from the data breaches while managing their compliance-related requirements. They are working to be equipped with the latest technology to proactively assess the risk landscape and then deploy the best practices to keep cyber threats at bay.

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) based GRC platforms can help avert cyber threats in the pharma sector, said Sudeep Chatterjee, general manager- India & MEA, MetricStream.

The pandemic has accelerated digitisation in the pharma sector and also amplified the threat of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Gaps in cyber security procedures, third party risks, failure to comply with regulations, and compliance have resulted in huge regulatory fines and operational disruption for Indian pharma industry, he added.

Before the pandemic, hackers used only 20% of new malware or methods to penetrate systems. However, during the pandemic, the volume shot up to 35%. Cybercriminals deploy machine learning tactics that remain undetected. Cyberattacks on the biotech and pharmaceutical industry grew by 50% between 2019 and 2020. Needless to say, the spate of cyber-attacks led companies to rethink their cyber security strategy, said Chatterjee.

Implementing a GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) strategy in the pharma sector can seem like a daunting task. The primary purpose of GRC is to infuse optimum business risk visibility that enables the company to grow unabatedly. The intense pressure to operate a business while managing risk has increased in recent times as risks continue to multiply, become more complex and damaging in the digital world. In the present day, GRC covers multiple domains, including management, compliance, internal audit, enterprise risk and third-party risk management, among others, he said.

Further the risk landscape has become clogged, insecure, and interconnected than before. Segment-specific issues like health and safety can spill over to impact businesses. Fines and reputational risks are just the tips of the iceberg. A data breach can affect business continuity, partner associations, supply chain, IT security, workforce productivity, and get the company into lawsuits among others.

Other factors like the influence of social media, recurrent cyber-attacks, and greater transparency demands have also prompted the management to make informed, intelligent, and quick decisions regarding risks with maximum accuracy. The leadership, in turn, relies increasingly on the various stakeholders within the organization to identify, manage, and reduce risk. A robust GRC strategy can reduce the gaps and improve collaboration to facilitate quick, accurate, and coordinated action. However, a GRC strategy based on traditional methods and manual processes are difficult to implement, track, and prone to errors, stated Chatterjee.
 
 Therefore pharmaceutical companies should leverage AI to manage their compliance requirements and protect sensitive intellectual property from cyberattacks. It is in their best interest to transition from the existing spreadsheet based GRC systems to AI solutions that will provide the required security and integrity, said the MetricStream general manager- India & MEA.

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