The Research & Development division of an organization is one of its key pillars of success and growth. The Research & Development is the force that works behind a new successful product or service of a company.  They are the first phases of a company’s product development process. 

The division role is responsible to analyze the market to understand risks and opportunities associated with a company’s new or updated offering.  Also, their role is to introduce or improve processes, policies and programs in an organization. The Research & Development division is integral to businesses across industries, including healthcare, construction, technology, food and manufacturing.

What data does the R&D Department handle? 

Research can be basic or applied. Basic research derives knowledge inputs crucial for developing the business or making sound business decisions. 

Applied research, on the other hand, is more focused. It is often conducted to reach a specific goal. Developing a new product or technology, identifying a new target market, and improving existing business processes, among others, demand applied research.

Regardless of the type of research, your R&D department is a storehouse of patented knowledge, and business intelligence and information. Any safety risk to your R&D can be detrimental to your business growth and brand reputation.

Innovation inherent to R&D makes the division vulnerable to cyber-risks. In fact, R & D is a high-value cyber target for cybercriminals.

How is R&D vulnerable to cyberattacks?

R&D data and intellectual property are profitable motives for cyber criminals. In addition, the infrastructure and the nature of work of R&D experts exposes them to vulnerabilities criminals seek to explore.

R&D employs an elaborate network infrastructure, including on-premise technology such as IT and OT networks and cloud computing resources. Infrastructure within this ecosystem may be protected or unprotected, which extends the degree of risk accordingly.

Also, R&D projects can run for several months or even years. The time span necessitates frequent remote working. Remote working on an unprotected network can put the entire  R&D infrastructure at risk. 

4 common cyber risks R&D department might encounter

Cyber criminals can steal proprietary data, gain access to sensitive data and sell them to your competitors, or totally disrupt your R&D activities. They can employ different methods to gain control over your R & D team. Given below are some top cyber-threats you need to be aware of, and protected from, for cyber-safety within R&D:

  1. Phishing

This cyberattack involves emails with malicious links and downloads, which when clicked by your team, can result in the loss of sensitive R&D data. These fraudulent emails are disguised as authentic emails from authorized sources.

For example, a phishing email may resemble an email from your accounts or any department. When your employees believe in the credibility of the email and click on the link, they are being attacked.


Ransomware is a malicious software that takes control of your device such as a laptop or smartphone. The attacker holds your data, and indirectly your R&D or even the entire organization as hostage. Even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee that you would get control over your device.

  1. Malware

Malware is short for “malicious software”. It includes viruses including Trojans, worms, ransomware, adware and spyware. Malware can be any software that causes harm to your devices and device-based infrastructure.

Criminals may gain unauthorized access to your device and systems, or destroy them entirely, using malware.   

  1. Insider Threats

Employees working within your organization can knowingly or unknowingly become a threat. 

A known threat is one in which an employee that has access to your R&D intelligence, plots against you to steal the data or disrupt the system. An unknown threat arises from incidents such as an employee losing his/ her laptop or a USB that holds sensitive data.

5 ways for R&D department to stay protected against cyberattacks

It is crucial to realize cybersecurity can cost you not only huge money but also your reputation and entire organizational safety. A strong cyber-security system helps prevent security issues before they become major disasters.

By deploying efficient cyber-security strategies, potential threats can be identified and neutralized before they impact the results of your R & D projects. Experts therefore strongly recommend use of reliable R & D cyber-security measures.

Here are some ways you can protect your R & D team from cyber-threats:

  1. Implement Cyber Safety Training

Educate employees, researchers, students, vendors and other stakeholders about the cyber-risks facing them and the consequences. Training gives them the skills to identify threats such as suspicious emails and address them appropriately.

Training makes them more cyber aware. It encourages behaviors such as locking devices when not at desk, using encryption and password protection, and browsing the Internet with caution.

  1. Ensure Data Backup

Data backup ensures that you have access to all critical data in the unfortunate event of a cyber- attack. Use a backup device not connected to your main infrastructure so that data remains safe during an attack. Test the backup for performance periodically.

  1. Increase Safety Layers with Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication uses 2 or more identity verifications to ensure only authorized access to systems. This authentication offers much safety due to the uniqueness of the individual and therefore it is difficult to breach.

Multi-factor authentication uses 3 factors related to an individual for confirming identity. These include:

  • Something the individual knows such as a password or code
  • Something the person has such as an authorized USB that needs to be inserted or a badge that needs to be swiped
  • Something on the person such as a fingerprint or retina matching
  1. Make your Security Infrastructure Comprehensive

You may already be using software tools. Expand the potential of your security infrastructure by:

  • Installing essential software applications such as antivirus software and firewalls
  • Using VPN or Virtual Private Network for encrypted and safe communication 
  • Updating device and network software as and when required to increase their efficiency. Security and OS patches protect your devices and systems from the latest bugs and threats.
  1. Implement Efficient Access Management

Avoid granting access to information to one and all. Not everybody needs all the information. Keep access selective so that only authorized members have access to data and systems.

Avoid giving the same credentials to multiple team members. Assign separate login accounts to each person. If an individual is moved to another project or resigns his/her job, then ensure that the associated login rights are revoked immediately to avoid misuse. 


The R & D division is one of the core teams that drives the success and revenue of an organization. With its focused inputs, the R & D ensures that a business stays competitive.   

The risk of cyber-threats to a division as significant as the R & D needs to be considered seriously. Timely implementation of efficient safety strategies can help prevent major disasters in the future.  


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