Essential Pharma is an international pharmaceutical company whose aim is to ensure the sustainable supply of low volume, difficult-to-manufacture, clinically well-established, pharmaceutical products to patients in more than 20 countries covering 9 therapeutic areas. Operating in a highly regulated industry, with a strong reliance on technology, Essential Pharma recognised the need to ensure that their IT and cyber security systems could support further growth and protect the organisation now and in the future. By working with Chorus, Essential Pharma has built a strong technological foundation and achieved Cyber Essentials Plus certification, as well as benefitting from mature ongoing managed IT and security services.

  • Essential Pharma logo for Cyber Essentials case study

Challenges

  • Outgrown existing managed service provider (MSP), requiring a forward-thinking partner to drive Essential Pharma’s IT modernisation
  • Need to enhance cyber security posture to meet Cyber Essentials criteria, which was a key business requirement
  • Difficulties accessing company resources remotely due to ageing on-premises infrastructure and out of date methodology
  • Recurring device issues, requiring time-consuming device rebuilds

Solutions

  • Cyber security assessment and consultancy
  • Managed services with ITIL-aligned Service Desk and 24x7 Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC)
  • Azure cloud infrastructure migration
  • Modern device management

Outcomes

  • New strategic IT and cyber security partnership with transformation roadmap
  • Attained Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus Certifications
  • Increased cloud adoption, enabling simple and secure remote working for staff
  • Efficient device management, allowing centralised management and improved security
Scientist looking through a microscope

"We knew how capable Chorus’s security team were technically, and the maturity of their services. We wanted to benefit from that expertise and partnership day-to-day, and a managed security service has allowed us to do that”

HR & IT Officer, Essential Pharma

 

Test tubes cyber essentials case study pharmaceuticals

Transitioning to proactive IT Managed Services

As an innovative organisation that relies heavily on technology, IT is vital to Essential Pharma’s operations. While the company had an existing IT Managed Services Provider (MSP), they had outgrown the MSP and their IT support capabilities.

A strong relationship and a proactive approach were important to Essential Pharma when considering a new IT partner. Essential Pharma partnered with Chorus to fulfil this requirement and now benefit from ITIL-aligned managed services, with a remote Service Desk and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line support. Working with the incumbent, Chorus successfully onboarded Essential Pharma and started delivering support during the transition to allow a smooth and pain-free process.

"During onboarding, we not only focus on getting everything ready for service to start but we also like to use the opportunity to make continual service improvements” explains Ben Davies, Business Development Manager at Chorus. “As part of the transition, our engineers were able to solve many longstanding recurring technical problems, by identifying the root causes and finding permanent solutions to the issues. This means we can deliver an enhanced support from day one and feed this into a longer-term continual service improvement plan.”

Scientist looking through a microscope

Making security a priority

As a successful company operating in a highly regulated industry, with stakeholders keen to safeguard the integrity of the business, cyber security was also front of mind for Essential Pharma. They wanted to protect their business with modern, best-in-class security technologies and achieve Cyber Essentials certification as quickly as possible.

To gauge their level of threat exposure and build a remediation plan to attain Cyber Essentials, Chorus carried out a Cyber Security Threat Check to identify active threats and vulnerabilities across Essential Pharma’s digital estate, including email, identities, endpoints, and data. The findings of the assessment were presented as a report and workshop to Essential Pharma, which delivered many insights and recommended improvements.

Sarah Oxborrow, HR & IT Officer at Essential Pharma, said “We were hugely impressed with the comprehensive findings from the Threat Check. It enabled us to identify and prioritise key improvements for our security architecture, which has proved invaluable to the business”.

Petri dish pharmaceuticals

Ensuring ongoing security management

Recognising they didn’t have the in-house security expertise to implement or manage their cyber security daily, Essential Pharma chose to onboard to Chorus’s Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) service and implement Microsoft’s enterprise-grade endpoint security solution, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

“Following the success of our prior engagements and the strength of our existing relationship, we knew how capable Chorus’s security team were technically and the maturity of their services”, explains Sarah at Essential Pharma. “We wanted to benefit from that expertise and partnership day-to-day, and a managed security service has allowed us to do that”.

Essential Pharma are now benefitting from 24x7x365 Managed Detection & Response (MDR) services, with a team of expert cyber security analysts monitoring their systems around the clock, with the ability to detect and respond to cyber attacks if required.

Person working in a laboratory holding a chemical solution

Building a strong foundation

Essential Pharma’s partnership with Chorus has enabled the company to define a clear technology vision and strategic roadmap for the business. For this to be implemented over the coming years, it was essential to put the solid technological foundations in place, which could be built on over time, and ensure that they achieved Cyber Essentials certification quickly.

Chorus undertook several key projects to create this solid baseline, before Cyber Essentials certification and future transformation projects could take place:

BitLocker

Essential Pharma experienced problems where ESET locked devices would have to be returned to the MSP to be rebuilt, taking time and leading to a poor user experience. Chorus used BitLocker to replace this and reduce costs, while the Chorus Service Desk could remotely reset PINs and passwords if needed.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

Employees couldn't access SharePoint remotely without connecting over VPN to their on-premises remote desktop server (RDS). Chorus helped Essential Pharma roll out AVD, moving the existing UniFi wireless to a UniFi appliance in Azure, improving security and enabling access to SharePoint from any device. This reduced costs, enabled OneDrive access, and allowed security improvements with multi-factor authentication and Conditional Access. The ageing RDS could then be decommissioned. This work helped remove key barriers to Cyber Essentials accreditation and allowed Essential Pharma staff the ability to work remotely.

Azure

Essential Pharma were required to maintain a legacy finance system throughout its remaining data retention period. Due to an insecure application server, Chorus provided a secure solution by building and maintaining infrastructure in Azure to host it.

Hybrid Azure AD Join

Essential Pharma’s domain-joined devices couldn’t benefit from modern device compliance and security technologies. This was another key barrier to Cyber Essentials certification. Chorus used Intune to connect these devices to Azure AD using Hybrid Azure AD Join for improved device compliance. This enabled devices to benefit from Mobile Device Management (MDM) with Conditional Access, and an improved update and patching experience with Windows Update for Business.

Mobile Application Management (MAM)

To achieve Cyber Essentials certification, Essential Pharma had to ensure that mobile working was secure. Using MAM, Chorus helped Essential Pharma protect company data on unmanaged personal and work iOS and Android devices. Essential Pharma can now prevent devices without the latest OS version from accessing company data, without requiring full enrolment of personal devices with MDM.

Pharmaceutical tablets in a glass

A bright future

Essential Pharma quickly gained Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus certification, demonstrating the robust security measures they have put in place.

“Chorus have helped us build a solid security foundation and attain Cyber Essentials Plus within very tight timescales” comments Sarah. “We are now working together on an exciting technical roadmap that will give our employees a great, modern user experience to support our growth and improve productivity and security.”

This roadmap includes rolling out Microsoft 365 modern workplace technologies, such as SharePoint Online, Data-Loss Prevention, Information Protection and Intune for mobile device management. Windows Autopilot will be used for deploying and rebuilding devices with a remote zero-touch process, as well as enabling Essential Pharma to completely remove Active Directory by leveraging the benefits of Azure AD native join.

While all this is ongoing, Essential Pharma is benefitting from managed IT and CSOC services, which deliver mature IT support and advanced managed threat detection and response services. This has enabled Essential Pharma to focus on delivering medicines to those who need them most, safe in the knowledge that their technology is robust and protected, allowing employees to do their best work from wherever they are operating.

Person working in a laboratory holding a chemical solution

"Chorus have helped us build a solid security foundation and attain Cyber Essentials Plus within very tight timescales. We are now working together on an exciting technical roadmap that will give our employees a great, modern user experience to support our growth and improve productivity and security.”

HR & IT Officer, Essential Pharma

 

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