2016 has definitely been a year of malicious code and cybersecurity. From Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre paying a $17,000 ransom and experiencing 10 days of downtime to Kansas Heart Hospital paying their ransom only to not get access to their file – security vulnerabilities are becoming a serious threat.
The healthcare IoT (Internet of Things) market segment is poised to hit $117 billion by 2020 and it is only a matter of time when these interconnected devices start getting compromised by hackers and malicious code.
Medical devices are just like any other computer system – and as such, they are vulnerable to security breaches which can heavily impact the safety and effectiveness of the device. The more these devices are connected, the higher the risk of them being hacked and used for wrong goals.
Cybersecurity threats cannot be completely eliminated – that is why manufacturers, hospitals and facilities need to work together to manage them and fight them more efficiently. Innovation in healthcare is very much welcomed, but it needs to be coupled with caution and balance between new technologies and patient safety.
- Balancing security with ease-of-use
Making tech-enabled medical devices safe would require multi-step verification procedures that could impede their ease-of-use. Digitally-enabled devices used for monitoring real medical conditions will most likely become an easy target for hackers if no additional layers of control or unauthorized entry monitoring software will be put in place. This could very likely lead to too much hassle and could worsen the user experience.
- New industry-wide security standards for medical devices
There aren’t any widespread cybersecurity standards that medical device manufacturers have to abide by and that is the main reason why it is so hard to directly compare and secure older medical devices.
- Medical devices more endangered than hospitals themselves
Medical device manufacturers will move faster than hospitals will. Manufacturers still have time to improve the security of their devices. Even though patient safety will not be influenced by hacked devices in the near future, hospitals should already start preparing themselves for the cyber-health revolution. Better security for connected medical devices will be a must in the future and being proactive will most certainly pay off.