Hackers have been targeting medical devices to steal data and jeopardize health conditions of patients. They either hold data back with them and ask for ransom from developers and owners or manipulate medical records and lead patients astray from correct treatment. This has caused a lot of chaos in the medical industry and raised an urgent need to tighten security. Along with taking necessary measures to avoid breach in the first place, companies need to alert patients about the safety measures they need to take. Hackers have been inserting viruses into the systems to block or modify information. Moreover, medical devices are connected to arrays and sensors of the hospitals, which provide many entry points in hospital networks. This could lead to a potential attack and breach of information for which they could ask for ransom.
The attacks on implanted medical devices are the most dangerous for health of patients. No one would prefer their information to be shared with criminals, who can manipulate records and convey false readings. An investigation from British and Belgian researchers found that there were security flaws in implantable cardiac defibrillators that are currently available in the market. The devices with features such as wireless connectivity, near field communication, and remote monitoring provide convenience to healthcare professionals in monitoring health conditions of patients. But these features provide point of exposures to hackers. Hackers can insert viruses through these points by discovering flaws and harm health of patients.
Though implanted devices are more prone to hacking, medical care gadgets in the hospital are also at risk. According to the research from IoT security firm Zingbox, hospitals in the U.S. have at least 10 to 15 devices connected to each bed. May Wang, chief technology officer at Zingbox, outlined that hospitals have realized the benefits of deploying IoT devices. Mr. Wang added that healthcare industry has been targeted more than finance sector by hackers. The number of hacking incidents targeting medical devices are rising due to ease in availability. The devices having outdated operating system are the most vulnerable to get attacked.
Device manufacturing companies need to provide proper cyber security to devices. They need to offer features such as security scanning and ease in download for patches and updates. More robust security protections need to be installed. Though first few devices launched into the market were more vulnerable than today, the security of devices has made progress. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun taking important measures for checking cybersecurity during approval process. It has included security in approval criteria for products. FDA has experienced improvement in security measures taken by manufacturers. As more devices are emerging with advancements in technology, security cannot be optional. Cybersecurity concerns need to be taken into consideration. According to the recent research from Progressive Markets, the global cyber security market would grow at a CAGR of 15% from 2017 to 2025. Though all the security measures are taken, it is obvious that securing more and more devices efficiently from various viruses is a gradual process. There will be more measures and techniques coming in next few years to protect devices.