Healthcare standards and regulations

How to Digitally Secure Fast-Changing Health Technologies

3 min read

Cybercrime is nuanced, and while most medical facilities think they are secure, undiscovered security gaps are being exploited every day. And, it’s not always easy to detect a breach.

A recent Deloitte survey found the identification and mitigation of medical device risks to be the biggest challenge for more than 30% of hospital IT and security professionals. This fear is justified. As enterprise connectivity and digitization continue to expand, it leaves medical devices increasingly susceptible to breaches that risk compromising your entire network.

Hackers have a motive, too. The payday is large for hackers who sell medical data. And, according to a recent survey by Nuix, 38% of surveyed hackers said they could find the healthcare data they sought in less than one hour.

With fast-evolving and emerging health technologies, the threats are increasing and hospitals are scrambling to implement solutions that guard against known and emerging threats. Maybe you’re not as protected as you thought.

How Emerging Health Technologies and Practices are Transforming the Medical Security Landscape

Hackers aren’t necessarily looking for the medical device; they are looking for network vulnerabilities. As medical devices are becoming more connected, and able to send more data over the network, patient care is improving and becoming more efficient. On the flip side, as these devices become more sophisticated, the cybersecurity risk for hospital security and IT leaders becomes greater.

The increased functionality creates a wider surface to protect, and inevitably more opportunities for hackers to take advantage of security gaps.

1.  Regulatory Oversight

Regulatory bodies worldwide are beginning to address the security challenges healthcare providers face. Regulatory and industry organizations have stated that the protection of connected medical devices is the responsibility of both device manufacturers and healthcare providers. Already in 2005, the FDA issued a cybersecurity guidance document for manufacturers of networked medical devices that use OTS software.

In addition, industry standard bearers such as AAMI, IEC, and ISO have issued a handful of cybersecurity standards for medical device security. Regulatory oversight is constantly changing and in April 2017, the FDA issued a Medical Device Safety Action Plan.

Still, it’s not perfect. According to Healthcare IT News, as of 2017, only 9% of manufacturers and 5% of users say they test medical devices at least annually.

2.  Learning How to Balance Growth, Innovation, and Security

Healthcare providers must learn how to build new security ecosystems, capable of accommodating and comprehensively defending both legacy and emerging health technologies. There are more variables to analyze than ever before, and hospitals must begin to take a planned approach to address the increased risk they face.

Planning for medical security deployment requires a modular and cost-effective approach that easily integrates with other security solutions.


3.  Damage Increases According to Your Inability to Detect a Breach

Without proper visibility and security infrastructure, a breach is likely. What’s worse than not preventing an attack? Not knowing when you’ve been breached.

According to a Verizon study, only about 56% of healthcare data breaches are discovered within the first several days, while 39% of healthcare data breaches take months — or more — before being discovered.

The longer your information is compromised, the more damage and loss it will cause. Find a system that can detect breaches early and provide action items for preventing them in the first place.

Aren’t Our Existing Security Solutions Enough? What About General IoT Security Solutions?

These are frequently asked questions.

Confidence in your preparedness requires a deep look into your current technical infrastructure. Have you asked your CISO the tough questions?

As hackers become more experienced, healthcare providers need to stay one step ahead with a solution that speaks the language of healthcare IT teams and devices. Other solutions intended to protect connected IoT devices across a wide-range of industries cannot address the specific security needs of life-saving devices, such as infusion pumps or respirators.

Even the largest, most seemingly secure healthcare organizations, are only one mistake away from a breach. And breaches can cause unfixable reputation, financial, and patient care issues.   

Medical data is nonperishable. That is to say, it won’t lose value over time; meaning a larger payday for cyber criminals who manage to get their hands on that data. As long as the motive is there, the number of cyber attacks on connected medical devices will continue to increase until there is a solution.

Prepare for the worst. Make a plan for your equipment, patients’, and staff’s security.