Juan Piacquadio, chief information officer of Phlow Corp., describes the innovative and competitive edge the implementation of Pharma 4.0 brings to the industry, and how to best secure it.
Risk Management
Internet of Things

Nexus Podcast: Juan Piacquadio on Securing Pharma 4.0

Michael Mimoso
Jan 15, 2024

The pharmaceutical industry is at the forefront of deploying advanced, transformative technologies to improve the development of life-saving medicines. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and digital twins are being road-tested in a number of applications under the umbrella of Pharma 4.0, an offshoot of Industry 4.0. The integration of these smart technologies into pharmaceutical manufacturing processes is being done so with the aim of delivering efficiencies and innovation to the industry.

In this episode of the Nexus podcast, Juan Piacquadio, chief information officer of Phlow Corp., describes the innovative and competitive edge the implementation of Pharma 4.0 brings to the industry, and also how it expands the attack surface available to advanced threat actors, how vulnerability management will change, and whether security can continue to be bolted on, or must it be native to these new technologies. 

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“A combination of these technologies is really reshaping the way that pharmaceutical companies research, develop, manufacture, and deliver medication,” Piacquadio said, adding that the combination of these advanced digital technologies with physical processes will result in a more competitive, innovative industry.

The road to Pharma 4.0, Piacquadio cautions, isn’t without speed bumps. Integration challenges lie ahead, in addition to cultural overhauls in some cases where new skills will be a mandate, and older skills and technologies made obsolete. And of course, Pharma 4.0 must be secured. 

“We are seriously extending our cybersecurity [attack] surface,” he said. “We are bringing in new potential vulnerabilities. We will be extending our digital ecosystems to third parties that provide critical services [over the cloud], so all of this has to be taken into consideration and properly managed.”

Within Pharma 4.0, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, and digital twins will foster data-driven decision making, Piacquadio said, among many other advantages that will improve the production and delivery of pharmaceuticals. Digital twins, for example, Piacquadio said will allow researchers to use these virtual mirrors of production systems to identify issues or inefficiencies that can then inform operational technology or smart technologies in near real time. 

Augmented reality, meanwhile, could serve as a test environment for new processes or workflows, or even for testing configurations of new equipment, minimizing any risks or vulnerabilities before they hit production, he said. 

There will be threats to these environments, Piacquadio cautions, that will threaten pharmaceuticals’ invaluable intellectual property. One top-of-mind concern is data quality, and the impact of a successful data poisoning attack, for example, could have on the timetable of a drug production. Strategically, CISOs must prioritize a number of areas, ranging from detecting and preventing unauthorized access, to data security, and 24/7/365 monitoring. 

“I would say you have to take a holistic approach to securing the attack surface and develop your security posture accordingly,” he said.

Risk Management
Internet of Things
Michael Mimoso
Editorial Director

Michael Mimoso is Director of Influencer Marketing at Claroty and Editorial Director of Nexus.

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