How Will Healthcare Adapt to Security Concerns?

2019-03-18

Innovative technology often makes headlines for the medical community. Advancements in insulin pumps, improved devices to prevent strokes in vulnerable groups, and many more groundbreaking tools have improved the lives of patients across the nation. However, while this progress is important, there are glaring flaws in the security of medical devices.

Problems with Embedded Devices

When it comes to securing healthcare tech, efforts are notoriously lax. As a result, a two-pronged problem faces medical companies producing embedded devices. The first is the need to protect patients from hackers. If a hacker gains access to a diabetic patient’s insulin pump, that individual’s life is at risk.

Medical facilities themselves also face security concerns. If a hacker breaches an embedded device, they have the potential to access hospital networks through back channels. Once inside, they can compromise patient data or take crucial information hostage. This is an unacceptable level of risk for patients and the providers they trust.

Advantages of Wearable and Embedded Devices

The advantage of embedded and wearable technology is undeniable. Medical professionals can make small adjustments to improve a patient’s day-to-day life through a wireless connection rather than requiring a procedure or surgery. Doctors can monitor data from the device to gain insights into the effectiveness of the treatment as well. However, many of these advancements are vulnerable to attack.

The Need for Heightened Security

Despite data breaches making headlines, medical technology doesn’t often receive rigorous security protocols. Connected devices also pose a risk as well. Hospitals possess hundreds of connected devices that are susceptible to hacking. While rigorous security improvements are needed, some are as simple as ensuring connected devices operate on updated operating systems and software. For example, some hospitals still operate on Windows XP—a system that no longer receives security updates. Without even this basic level of security, those devices are exposed.

Much of the problem lies with connected devices not looking like a typical target of a hacker. A technician performing an MRI doesn’t think of the machine as a potential access point for hackers. However, any connected machine or device is a potential access point—especially if its security is weak.

The medical community can’t afford to let these security risks remain. Going forward, medical technology needs to incorporate a robust suite of security measures. Existing devices need an easy method to patch and update security systems as well. In the interim, the medical sector needs to take a hard look at its security risks. To learn more about reducing your medical company’s risk, contact the experts at MMA Florida.

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