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What does good cybersecurity look like in 2022?

The pharma industry is becoming an increasingly hot commodity for cybercriminals. In recent years, digital adoption has accelerated
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The pharma industry is becoming an increasingly hot commodity for cybercriminals. In recent years, digital adoption has accelerated at a rapid pace, with companies racing to integrate cloud-based platforms and telehealth services to expand the delivery of modern healthcare. Combined with the sudden arrival of COVID-19, this perfect storm of events handed cybercriminals an opportunity to exploit weaknesses in fledging systems and processes.

Pharma companies hold masses of vital data sets, from classified intellectual property to proprietary information about drugs and clinical trial developments. The value of such data is not lost on cybercriminals. This was illustrated in 2021, amid growing awareness of the pharma industries’ efforts to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. According to cybersecurity firm Critical Insights, the number of cybersecurity breaches in healthcare reached an all-time high in 2021, exposing an unprecedented amount of protected health information.

Cyber attacks can be highly damaging, both financially and to a company’s reputation. Therefore, it is essential that necessary steps are taken, both at a company and individual level, to understand and prevent the risk of cyber threats. But what does good cybersecurity actually look like? To help navigate the complex world of digital crime, Adarma’s threat consultant Mike Varley, KnowBe4 lead security awareness advocate Javvad Malik, CEO and founder of CyberSmart Jamie Akhtar, and senior engineer at Trend Micro Simon Walsh offer their insights into key trends and best practises for pharma companies.

Why is the healthcare industry a particular target for cyberattacks?

Javvad Malik (JM): Historically cybercriminals were after money, so they often ignored healthcare providers. However, with increasing sophistication within the criminal economies and the ability to monetise data through ransomware, other means of extortion, or resale, healthcare providers have become an almost ideal target for criminals.

Simon Walsh (SW): Despite statements from would-be attackers to the contrary, the healthcare and pharma industries became prime targets during the COVID pandemic, particularly for ransomware operators, as we saw during the breach of the Irish Healthcare Service Executive in May 2021.

There are several reasons for this: they’re seen as easy targets because of their relative lack of security maturity; the COVID pandemic-induced strain they’re already under makes them more likely to pay the ransom; and the fact that the data they hold – patient records – is extremely valuable and opens additional paths to extortion.

Jamie Akhtar (JA): Many healthcare providers have weak or limited defences. These range from poor staff awareness of threats to creaking, outdated operating systems and tech, but whatever the reason, cybercriminals are aware that many healthcare providers make for easy pickings.

Mike Varley (MV): We can expect to see a rising number of ransomware attacks on the healthcare sector. Healthcare is recognised as national critical infrastructure, which makes it an attractive target to malicious foreign entities looking to create chaos and harm. Similarly, when human life is put at risk by an attack, organisations are more likely to pay up, so attackers often view these structures as a quick pay-day.

Where do you see the most mistakes being made in healthcare when it comes to addressing cyber threats?

JM: Perhaps the biggest mistakes or challenges healthcare faces when addressing cyber threats are having outdated or unpatched software running, being too quick to purchase or adopt internet-connected devices without demanding rigorous security testing, and, finally, the lack of security awareness and training amongst IT staff.

SW: Security maturity and the ability to successfully detect and withstand attacks comes from understanding cyber risk and building and developing a cyber security strategy around that understanding. This of course needs to be adopted and driven by the board and C-level executives and too often this is not the case, with a lack of understanding and investment resulting in a weakened security posture.

Over-reliance on security technology without adequate human oversight further weakens this posture. The Irish hospitals who successfully prevented the attack in May 2021 were those who not just detected stages of the attack but also understood what those detections meant and acted as a result.

Developing a human oversight function – for example a Security Operations Centre – in house is costly, difficult, and takes time. So, for many in the healthcare/pharma industry, the quickest route to success on this front is working with the correct partner who will provide that function.

JA: There are two areas in which most organisations, not just healthcare providers, could be doing better. Many aren’t doing the simple things that can thwart most cyber-attacks. For example, regularly updating software and operating systems, using strong passwords and MFA, developing clear policies for staff to follow, and ensuring security tools are configured properly.

On top of this, employee awareness of cyber threats just isn’t widespread enough. An organisation can have the best cybersecurity software around but, if an employee doesn’t know what a phishing email looks like and clicks a malicious link, it’ll be hacked just the same. The way to counter this is basic cybersecurity training. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive, just enough to help your people make informed choices.

“Perhaps the biggest mistakes or challenges healthcare faces when addressing cyber threats are having outdated or unpatched software running, being too quick to purchase or adopt internet-connected devices without demanding rigorous security testing, and, finally, the lack of security awareness and training amongst IT staff.”

 

What trends are you seeing in cybersecurity at the moment?

JA: The most worrying trend is the rise in supply chain attacks. Cybercriminals have worked out that the best way to target large enterprises with solid defences, is to attack a smaller, less well-defended supplier who can give them a backdoor in. As a result, we’re seeing more major attacks originate in this way.

Alongside this, phishing continues to be the single most common form of attack. Due to the general lack of awareness in the working population, many organisations are still struggling to contain the threat.

MV: Increasingly I think we will see healthcare sector organisations turning to managed security service providers who have the expertise, capability, and technology to deal with an increasingly complex and harmful cyber landscape.

The healthcare sector is expected to provide an elevated level of cyber protection and with a shortage of cyber talent and the prohibitive cost of establishing a Security Operations Centre internally, organisations will need a trusted security partner that can provide that level of proactive protection.

What advice would you give to companies looking to improve their cybersecurity policies, both on a company-wide scale and individual basis?

JA: Above all, make them clear and easy to follow. Avoid technical jargon, where possible, as this will only disengage people. And, explain why the company has adopted the policies it has; your staff will find it much easier to follow them if they know why. Also, store them somewhere that’s easy to access from anywhere. There’s little use in a policy if it’s buried deep in a shared drive where nobody reads it.

MV: Cybersecurity policies should be informed by a threat-led approach. Regular threat modelling will highlight what threats you are facing and how adversaries are likely to target your organisation. With this information on areas of commonality, your security teams can focus on implementing layered security and monitoring.

Your policy should consider asset awareness. As basic as it sounds, it can be easy for a small handful of assets to fall under the radar within vast enterprises, which leads to out-of-date operating systems and software.

JM: Organisations should look to take a data-driven approach. That means, that in addition to following what is occurring externally in terms of attacks, they should look through a year or two worth of internal security logs to see what was the root cause of the incidents during this time period.

Once the root causes have been identified, they should be prioritised, and then controls be put in place to address those specific root causes. Those should inform the cybersecurity policies and tailor them to the specific risks the organisation is facing.

SW: For companies, start at the top and ensure that the board and C-level executives are capable of understanding and assessing risk. This will drive investment in cyber strategy and improve your chances of mitigating that risk. Human oversight of security-related activity in the organisation is also fundamental.

For individuals, heightened awareness and ongoing education are key. We all have a role to play in cyber-security as 100% reliance on technology is unfortunately never enough.

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Best Stocks To Buy Today? 3 Travel Stocks in Focus

Check out these travel stocks as China loosens its lockdown restrictions.
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3 Travel Stocks For Your Watchlist Now

As we’re approaching Independence Day, travel stocks may seem attractive for investors today. Since parts of the world are already moving towards the endemic phase, consumers could be increasingly keen on traveling. Moreover, with summer vacations continuing, families are excited to enjoy a vacation somewhere in the world. According to an estimate by the American Automobile Association, 42 million Americans are likely to travel for the long weekend ahead. Therefore, it would make sense that investors are considering travel stocks now.

On top of that, China has just cut the quarantine period for international travelers. This would make for a milestone in its loosening of Covid restrictions in the past two years. According to the revised government protocol, international travelers only have to quarantine at centralized facilities for seven days, and an additional three days spent at home before venturing out. This decision is made as Chinese officials continue to get a hold of the pandemic locally.

The slash in quarantine times has benefited many companies, and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) are some of them. Since both companies operate casinos in Macau, both companies are gaining in the stock market today. Evidently, both LVS stock and WYNN stock are now gaining by over 7% at the opening bell today. With a great weekend coming ahead, here are three more travel stocks for your watchlist today.

Travel Stocks To Watch Today

Trip.com Group Ltd.

First up on our list today we have an international online travel agency, Trip.com. In short, the company offers hotel reservations, flight tickets, package tours, corporate travel management, and train ticketing services. All of which are readily available to consumers via its one-stop mobile app. With hotel and transportation information given, leisure and business travelers can make reservations. Travel packages and guided tours are also offered for corporate clients to manage their travel needs. For independent leisure visitors, Trip.com also provides package trips, including those for tour groups, semi-tour groups, and private groups.

TCOM
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

Yesterday, Trip.com released its first fiscal quarter financial results. Among its highlights, net revenue was $649 million, remaining stable year-over-year. The reason is because of the impact of the latest wave of Covid in China. However, staycation travels have been a major contributor to the recovery of the Chinese domestic market. In particular, local hotel bookings are up by over 20% year-over-year. At the same time, Trip.com’s air-ticket bookings on its global platforms are also up by 270% over the same period.

Despite China’s strict lockdown measures in most of the first half of 2022, Trip.com is maintaining its overall growth. According to CEO Jane Sun, the company’s “results demonstrated our resilience amidst a confluence of challenges and uncertainties.” Sun also adds, “While we may continue to see short-term fluctuations, demand for travel is still strong and shows a bright outlook in the long-term.” Pair all this with China loosening its restrictions and TCOM stock could be an attractive buy amongst its travel stock peers. Would you say the same?

[Read More] Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock Surges From China Covid Easing

Spirit Airlines Incorporated

Next, we have Spirit Airlines, an ultra-low-cost carrier. The company operates across the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean. In fact, it is a leader in providing customizable travel options that start with an unbundled fare. Its Fit Fleet is one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient in the U.S. as well. In recent weeks, the company has been locked in a fierce battle as companies like JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) and Frontier Group (NASDAQ: ULCC) have been trying to bid for Spirit.

The saga could be heading towards a climax this week as Spirit shareholders will vote on fellow budget airline Frontier’s acquisition offer on Thursday. However, JetBlue has been on the offensive, even boosting its offer price for Spirit on Monday evening. Diving in, JetBlue’s new offer raises the reverse break-up fee to $400 million from $350 million if regulators do not approve the deal. It also includes a dividend to Spirit shareholders of $2.50 a share, up from its previous offer of $1.50. On Frontier’s end, however, the company dismissed JetBlue’s claims that its acquisition of Spirit will lead to lower airfares.

Separately, TIG Advisors, an investment adviser that owns a stake of approximately 2 million Spirit Airlines shares, says that it has just sent a letter to the board of directors at Spirit regarding its intention to vote against the company’s proposed merger agreement with Frontier Group. It believes that its merger with JetBlue is the far superior outcome for Spirit shareholders due to its all-cash bid. This would also eliminate execution risk and maximize certainty of value. All things considered, should investors be looking at SAVE stock right now?

SAVE stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

[Read More] 5 Top Leisure Stocks To Watch This Summer

Airbnb Inc.

Topping our list today, we have Airbnb, a travel company that offers an online marketplace for lodging and tourism activities. It mainly earns its income through commissions from each booking. Today, it has over 4 million hosts who have welcomed more than 1 billion guests across the globe.

Today, the company announced that it is officially codifying the ban of all parties and events in its listings as part of its policy. This follows a temporary ban that was initiated in August 2020 on all parties and events. In that time since the company says it saw a direct correlation between the implementation of its policy in August 2020 and a 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports. The ban has also been well received by its host community and it has also received positive feedback from community leaders and elected officials.

On June 27, 2022, the company also reported that family travel and long-term stays will trend across the U.S. this Independence Day. For instance, from February 2022 to March 2022, searches for stays over July 4th have increased by nearly 50%. Also, hosts could stand to earn a lot during the holiday. After all, last year’s Independence Day yielded the biggest payout for U.S. hosts in 2021 compared to other holiday weekends, a major moment for hosts to earn. All things considered, is ABNB stock worth investing in right now?

ABNB stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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The post Best Stocks To Buy Today? 3 Travel Stocks in Focus appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket.com.

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Maternal mortality jumped during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e.,…

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e., deaths during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period) increased by 18% in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, exceeding the ~16% increase in overall US mortality in 2020. Yet according to a new analysis from the University of Maryland and Boston University, the maternal death rate after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was even higher, and disproportionately impacted Black and non-white Hispanic mothers. 

Credit: Marie E. Thoma, PhD; Eugene R. Declercq, PhD in JAMA Network Open

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e., deaths during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period) increased by 18% in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, exceeding the ~16% increase in overall US mortality in 2020. Yet according to a new analysis from the University of Maryland and Boston University, the maternal death rate after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was even higher, and disproportionately impacted Black and non-white Hispanic mothers. 

A research letter published in JAMA Network Open by Marie Thoma in the UMD School of Public Health and Eugene Declercq in the BU School of Public Health compared maternal mortality data from 2018-March 2020, when the pandemic began, to April-December 2020. Overall, they found large increases in maternal death (33%) and late maternal deaths (41%) after March 2020 compared with before the pandemic, and conspicuous increases among Black and Hispanic mothers. 

“The increase was really driven by deaths after the start of the pandemic, which are higher than what we see for overall excess mortality in 2020,” said Dr. Thoma, assistant professor of family science in the UMD SPH. The study also showed that existing and new disparities emerged after the pandemic with a 40% jump among already high rates for non-Hispanic Black women and a 74% jump among formerly lower rates in Hispanic women.  

Strikingly, said Dr. Declercq, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, “for the first time in more than a decade, the maternal mortality rate for Hispanic women during the pandemic was higher than that for non-Hispanic white women, a shift that may be related to COVID and deserves greater attention moving forward.”  

COVID-19 was listed as a secondary cause of death in 14.9% of maternal deaths in the last nine months of 2020, with it being a contributing factor for 32% of Hispanic, 12.9% of Black and 7% of non-Hispanic white women giving birth.

In their analysis of causes of maternal death, they found the largest increases were due to conditions directly related to COVID-19 (respiratory or viral infection) and conditions made worse by COVID-19 infection, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, interruptions to the health care system could have led to delayed prenatal care that could have meant that risk factors for pregnancy complications went undetected. 

“We need more detailed data on the specific causes of maternal deaths overall and those associated with COVID-19,” Dr. Thoma said. “Potentially we could see improvements in 2021 due to the rollout of vaccines, as well as the extension of postpartum care provided for Medicaid recipients as part of the American Rescue Act of 2021 in some states. We’re going to continue to examine this.”


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U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

U.S. regulators plan to decide by early July on whether to change the design of COVID-19 vaccines this fall in order to combat more recent variants of…

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U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

By Michael Erman

“The better the match of the vaccines to the circulating strain we believe may correspond to improve vaccine effectiveness, and potentially to a better durability of protection,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at a meeting of outside advisers to the regulator.

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The committee is scheduled to vote on a recommendation on whether to make the change later on Tuesday.

The updated shots are likely to be redesigned to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, experts say. read more The exact composition of the retooled shots and whether they also will include some of the original vaccine alongside new components will be considered at the meeting.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and Novavax Inc. (NVAX.O) are scheduled to present data at the meeting. All three companies have been testing versions of their vaccines updated to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was circulating and led to a massive surge in infections last winter.

Both Moderna and Pfizer with partner BioNTech (22UAy.DE) have said that their respective redesigned vaccines generate a better immune response against BA.1 than their current shots that were designed for the original virus that emerged from China.

They have said that their new vaccines also appear to work against the more recently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, even though that protection is not as strong as against BA.1.

Experts also want to know if the new shots will boost protection against severe disease and death for younger, healthier people or merely offer a few months’ additional safeguard against mild infection.

Scientists who have questioned the value of booster shots for young and healthy people have said a broad campaign is not needed with an updated shot either.

Other experts have championed any additional protection new vaccines may offer.

Reporting by Michael Erman Editing by Bill Berkrot and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters

 

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