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Secure communications protect pharma IP

Employee within the pharmaceutical sector sits at a computer with his screen easily visible, putting the company's intellectual property at risk.


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  • As the pharma sector continues pumping billions of dollars into research and development, companies are keen on protecting their IP to deter free-riding competitors.
  • Effective IP protection benefits pharma companies by safeguarding revenue streams, encouraging innovation, and promoting fair competition.
  • Pharma data protection efforts start with securing communications channels. With the right communications platform, you can successfully safeguard your intellectual properties.

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The pharmaceutical sector is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. From COVID-19 upheavals to rapid technological advancements, industry leaders are feeling immense pressure to re-evaluate business models and incorporate new ways of working to remain competitive.

Effective management of intellectual property (IP) has become strategically imperative for drug manufacturers in the face of disruption. As the pharma sector continues pumping billions of dollars into research and development, companies are keen on protecting their IP to keep competitors from free-riding on their costly R&D efforts.

Pharma data protection efforts start with securing communications channels. With digitization increasingly creating new points of interaction for teams and companies, the lack of an enterprise-grade secure communications platform that can guarantee data security at every turn puts IP at serious risk.

Here we look into the unquestionable importance of intellectual property protection and how a secure communications platform can help guarantee the safety of your in-house knowledge and data.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind for which one can obtain legal rights. IP can be an invention, literary and artistic work, and in pharma, novel medicines. Legally, owning an IP through copyrights and patents gives an individual or company the right to benefit from the outcomes of its usage.

Pharmaceutical IP typically results from long hard hours of rigorous testing and extensive research. Nevertheless, IP can benefit a pharma company extensively when effectively managed and protected. Some of these advantages include:

  • Protecting revenue and making investments worthwhile
  • Promoting innovative pharma R&D development by assuring research teams their work will be safeguarded
  • Protecting customers by assuring them of quality products
  • Ensuring that companies compete on a level playing field, driving growth in the sector
  • Supporting patent validity in court in the event of attempts to infringe on newly developed medicines and treatments

Why is IP protection crucial in pharma?

IP rights are essential to pharma companies primarily because of their commercial value. According to Statista, R&D spending in the global pharmaceutical industry was nearly $200 billion in 2020 and will exceed $250 billion by 2026. Acknowledging these costs, protecting IP becomes fundamentally important.

Meanwhile, pharma is among the sectors most targeted by cybercriminals. Attackers often attempt to steal IPs such as drug formulas and R&D data and either sell them to rival companies or ransom them back to the original owner.

Cyber threats have multiplied in recent years thanks to the race to develop COVID vaccines. A 2021 Pharmaceutical Technology study found that 92 percent of pharma companies had at least one exposed database with potential information leakage, while 46 percent had unprotected Server Message Block (SMB) services. Unless pharma companies can guarantee data safety, they are at significant risk of losing profits and market share due to IP theft.

How can a secure communications platform help protect your IP?

Modern-day research firms heavily depend on digital communication channels to keep operations running smoothly. Consequently, even minor security errors can compromise critical IP data and destroy years of hard work.

While it is impossible to avoid video meetings and group chats, you owe it to your organization to invest in secure communications solutions. Below are five ways the right pharma communications platform can help safeguard your intellectual properties.

1. Any-to-any encryption

Ensuring end-to-end encryption is relatively straightforward if most of your staff works from one physical office, using the same hardware, software, and networking solutions for research work. However, now that remote working is an everyday reality, enforcing encryption standards has become significantly more complicated.

Fortunately, the best cloud-based communications platforms support any-to-any encryption, where company data is encrypted at any access point, regardless of device or location. Moreover, all phone and video calls, chats, and messages shared through the platform are encrypted, creating an entirely secure ecosystem. To further enhance the security of any-to-any encryption in cloud-based communications platforms, it is crucial to pay attention to phone number validation, as it plays a significant role in ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the system.

2. Automated data security functions

Given the sensitivity of pharma IP, data security should not rest entirely on human hands. Secure communications platforms give you complete control over your information while performing routine maintenance tasks autonomously.

Functions like burn-on-read and screenshot detection can work in the background, protecting your data and IP without persistently asking for your input. That way, you can concentrate more on achieving the desired research results than on administrative data protection activities.

3. Support for zero-trust policies

If you have not heard of Zero Trust, the chances are high that your company is not as secure as you think. All employees have specific roles. Therefore, giving staff members access to more data than they need only exposes it to unnecessary risk. According to an IBM report, data breaches cost companies $3.86 million per breach on average, and compromised employee accounts are the most expensive root cause.

Practicing Zero Trust means divulging information on a “need-to-know” basis. Top communications platforms feature administrative controls that ensure successful Zero Trust enforcement. For instance, you can limit access to files only to the members of a specific project or create user groups with pre-set permissions for automated access control.

Pharmaceutical company employee wearing protective goggles and gloves stands at a laboratory-style table viewing intellectual property on a computer.

4. Transparency and accountability

Keeping a tab on the actions of your employees is crucial to ensuring compliance with data security policies. While some team members might blatantly ignore protocols, an activity log that tracks everything from internal chat room discussions to file downloads can ensure accountability.

The best communications solutions will give you comprehensive visibility into internal and external interactions. That way, you can keep track of who is sending what data to whom, identify any security violations, and take necessary action before it is too late.

5. Compliance with industry regulations

As an industry renowned for its high level of service, pharma works hard to maintain a pristine reputation. To ensure your organization’s compliance with regulations, you need secure communications solutions that are reliable and convenient to use while providing the tools necessary to manage risk effectively.

Pharma communications platforms from HITRUST CSF-certified vendors like RingCentral come with the tools required to give you peace of mind. Therefore, you can enjoy secure, reliable communications without worrying about compliance issues.

Female research scientist holding a clinical trial with a line of participants
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Protect your IP with RingCentral’s secure communications for pharma

Achieving reliable IP protection does not have to be challenging. With a secure, cloud-based communications platform, you can get all the control and security necessary to keep your data safe.

RingCentral’s comprehensive communications platform makes collaboration among research teams easy and secure. With messaging, phone, video, meetings, and contact center functionalities all accessible from one place, you can create a borderless organization and maintain seamless collaboration, customer service, and vendor interactions, whether in the office or on the go.

Most importantly, RingCentral understands the criticality of protecting your intellectual property and patient data. With a HITRUST CSF certification under our belt, you can rest assured your IP is undeniably secure. Our solutions are built on the most trusted communications platform and include security reviews at all development steps, from concept to release.

Want to leverage the most comprehensive and secure communications platform for pharma research teams? Request a RingCentral demo today, and experience it for yourself.

Originally published Mar 22, 2022, updated Jul 17, 2023

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