How does medical equipment pose a threat to patient safety?

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The lack of cybersecurity in the healthcare sector is one of the most serious problems of the information security sphere. In addition, financial assets and intellectual property are under threat.

The need for industrial control systems (Industrial Control System, ICS) in medical institutions.

Hospitals keep confidential information of patients and employees, including:

  • personal information;
  • patient health information;
  • bank accounts;
  • credit card numbers.

To protect personal data, all systems and processes must function optimally. An attacker can gain access to an organization’s IT system, compromise medical equipment, or steal personal data. Any lack of safety of medical equipment can cause damage to the organization. Software vulnerabilities and erroneous code on medical devices can jeopardize the safety of patients and IT systems.

Reliable ICS protection for medical devices will allow healthcare providers to take protective measures to reduce the risk of a cyber attack. Protection includes minimizing the impact of devices on the network, complete isolation of management systems and the use of VPN for any administrative tasks.

Priority of patient safety and protection.

Ransomware attacks the healthcare sector more often because hospitals will quickly pay money due to the urgent need for medical data and the widespread publicity of a cyberattack. Moreover, more and more companies are willing to pay ransom to cybercriminals so that stolen patient data is not sold on the Internet. Federal authorities constantly inform medical institutions about the prevention of ransomware programs.

Incorrect configuration of medical devices.

Ensuring patient safety begins with the registration of all medical IoT devices
in the institution. It is important to understand the security configuration of a medical IoT device and any vulnerabilities that may compromise patient safety. Incorrect configuration can lead to privacy violations, especially on open database portals.

Medical device management systems must be secured with multi-factor authentication to gain access. In addition, most medical equipment is equipped with SSH, FTP and other standard management protocols that are open to anyone who has the means to access them.

Also, downloading applications and software from unverified sources can lead to a violation of privacy on mobile devices. Malware infection can compromise the security of employees’ personal data on the medical portal or in the application.

The cost of ignoring cybersecurity for hospitals.

In 2021, more than 600 ransomware attacks on medical institutions cost more than $21 billion. The average cost of a cyberattack on the healthcare sector is estimated at $6.45 million. Malicious attacks on hospitals cost an average of $4.45 million.

Weak and outdated cybersecurity systems can be the main cause of cyber attacks and financial losses. It is better to invest in new and more reliable cybersecurity technologies than to lose a lot of money after a cyber attack.

Measures to protect medical institutions.

Hospitals and medical organizations are often subject to cyber attacks. It is important to protect confidential data of institutions from potential risks. Improper measures to protect hospital and patient data in accordance with HIPAA law can lead to fines and lawsuits against organizations.

Healthcare providers should take responsibility for the security of their ICS, update the software regularly and switch to smart devices. These methods will reduce risks in the existing infrastructure and ensure the confidentiality of patients’ personal data.

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