Medical Devices can lead to information security issuesWhen it comes to security breaches and healthcare organizations, sensitive data isn’t the only aspect executives and CIOs have to worry about; medical device risks are also included.

Device vulnerabilities have the potential not only to divulge sensitive data, but also to give access to an entire network. This would be disastrous for any hospital and its patients.  Fortunately, the same way these attacks exist, so do preventive measures to stop them.

A look at the mobile devices and risks involved, as well as possible solutions, allow healthcare facilities to be ready and avoid high risk situations. 

Medical devices susceptible to breach

Any wireless medical device or device connected to a health facility’s network is a target for hackers.   Some devices include medical diagnostic equipment like CT scanners, x-ray machines, and MRIs. Also on the list are therapeutic equipment like infusion pumps, and patient implanted devices such as pacemakers.

 Medical device risks

  • Devices work on an operating system, which allows them to function like PCs and computers; but this also makes them subject to the same vulnerabilities.
  • Medical device software updates aren’t always protected and patches can address issues such as bugs and recalls, but if not managed properly they create more problems than solutions.
  • HIPAA regulates patient privacy, but that’s only one piece of the information security pie.
  • Devices are susceptible to malware, and tracking does not necessarily catch on to the intrusion. Furthermore, unlicensed devices can operate on the same channels as medical devices creating further potential for breaches.

Medical device security solutions 

  • Penetration testing helps to identify a network’s weaknesses and if done regularly a healthcare organization is able to repair existing ones as they form; diminishing medical device breach risks. 
  • When patching or updating software, ensure it is done in a timely and efficient manner.

  • Add to the above solutions security vulnerability scans, which provide an exploratory view of external networks and shortcomings (such as configuration issues, web application vulnerabilities, unpatched updates, and open ports). This allows a healthcare organization’s security measures to maintain their efficiency and keep medical device risks low.

  • Healthcare IT teams are understaffed and spread out due to their day to day tasks, making it harder for them to stay on top of things 24/7.  It is advisable to also have a professional (or even a team of experts) who can come in and assist with the work needed to maintain a steadily secure network.

 The consequences of a medical device security breach entail data loss, device malfunction, even access to the network (the devices are connected to).  When this takes place, a facility’s proper function is compromised, as well as the patient’s privacy and safety; not to mention the repercussions of accountability and the financial burden healthcare organizations and executives undergo.

 Awareness of information and medical device security risks, and taking the proper steps to strengthen one’s network avoids falling victim of a breach and paying double the price for a situation that could have been prevented.

Get ahead of your network security risks and start working on your information security plan.