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The Role of Inventory Management in Pharmaceutical Laboratories: Mitigating the Impact of Ransomware

June 27, 2024
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Introduction: Unveiling the Complexities of Compliance and Lab IT

Lab IT management is vital for maintaining the integrity of laboratory operations. For scientists and pharmaceutical professionals navigating these systems and regulations can be hard work. Ensuring your lab is protected against cyber threats can be a daunting task but a necessary one.

Laboratories can be prime targets or ransomware attacks due to the importance of the data collected and sheer disruption caused if there is a halt in production and consequently significant financial losses.

2024 has already seen the highest number of January attacks ever recorded, with 76 attacks, which is a 130% increase from 2022.1 with the manufacturing sector being the primary target.

In February 2024, the LockBit ransomware group had 91 victims, making them a significant threat.

  • The manufacturing sector was the primary target of ransomware attacks, with 77 incidents.
  • The USA was the most targeted geography in February 2024, with 195 ransomware incidents.
  • Ransomware gangs posted 310 victims to their extortion sites in February 2024, up from 242 victims in February 2023, and 229 victims in February 2023.

The pharmaceutical industry has recognized the importance of isolating its networks. Additionally, it has focused on patching and updating operating systems in laboratories and maintaining standards with a robust malware protection solution.

The Challenge: A Ransomware Incident Unfolds

Picture this: a prominent pharmaceutical firm, dedicated to pioneering research and development, encounters a sudden disruption as a ransomware attack penetrates its global research infrastructure. With over 12,000 computers incapacitated within 8 minutes, years of critical research are at risk, potentially leading to extensive downtime.

The Turning Point: Harnessing the Power of Inventory Management

Through meticulous maintenance of a comprehensive inventory stored offline, the company possesses a vital lifeline to expedite recovery efforts. This inventory, diligently updated and managed, emerges as the cornerstone in the company’s resilience against adversity.

The Solution: Collaborative Recovery Efforts

Armed with the inventory, the company swiftly mobilizes its resources to initiate the recovery process. Leveraging the collaborative partnership with their Compliance and IT service provider, the company navigates the intricate task of restoring its research infrastructure with precision and efficiency.

A Path Forward:  Future-Proofing Your Data and Your Lab

Lab IT standards and best practices are important in addressing Ransomware threats proactively.  Here are some key points:

  • Segregate at-risk systems using VPNs or bridged PCs.
  • Establish a robust DIR program including a bare metal backup solution.
  • Ensure the most recent versions of operating systems.
  • Maintain compliance through monthly OS updates.
  • Maintain current versioning of malware solutions.
  • Capture and maintain a computer and instrument inventory that includes:
    • Prioritization of systems
    • Location
    • GxP status
    • Instrument controlled software
  • Maintain an accurate library of software and licenses.
  • Develop SLDCs to streamline reimaging GxP systems:
    • Change controls
    • PQ execution

Conclusion: Navigating the Human Element of Compliance and Lab IT

It’s easy to think that such incidents are isolated occurrences. However, cybersecurity threats, like ransomware attacks, can pose significant risks to any organization. The key lies in preparation and knowledge. By equipping yourself with awareness and proactive measures, you will be better positioned to address and mitigate potential risks, ensuring the integrity and continuity of your operations.

Beyond the regulations and technical complexities, it’s the resilience, forward-thinking, and collaboration of pharmaceutical professionals that drive success.

Like what you read?  For more insights and information on the role of inventory management for a future-ready lab, download our E-Book.

1 The State of Ransomware 2024 | BlackFog Available at:


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