The bioeconomy is in desperate need of security from hackers

The U.S. bioeconomy, which encomapsses the biomedical, bioindustrial and biomanufacturing world, is at risk from hackers if it doesn't receive adequate resources to secure itself, reported Wired May 12.

As cybersecurity becomes a bigger issue for a broader variety of companies, organizations part of the bioeconomy are now realizing that they are vulnerable to cyberattack. Political actors alongside hackers looking for cash may be targeting bioeconomy companies. For example, Russia and China both raced to hack vaccine makers for intelligence gathering throughout the pandemic, which could have been disruptive to operations. 

While some parts of the industry, including healthcare and agriculture, are designated as critical industries, the entirety of the bioeconomy is not given its far reaching nature. Instead it is given the label "critical emerging tech," which means it is unable to access some of the funding and resources for security given to those with critical industry designations. 

"A lot of the bioeconomy is small companies; that's the real lifeblood of American biotech," said Charles Fracchia, co-founder of cybersecurity non-profit BIO-ISAC. "Imagine if Moderna got hacked four years ago, even with some totally non-sophisticated malware, or they faced a ransomware attack. Small companies can go bankrupt really easily, and then we lose the work they're doing for the future."

Working ad hoc in the open field without strong federal designations or funding, one new partnership between BIO-ISAC and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is looking to promote and identify the need for resources for the industry to fight off cyber attacks. Together they are funding research, information sharing and public disclosures of attacks as well as incident response teams.

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