Tips to Protect Connected Medical Devices

Tips to Protect Connected Medical Devices

Healthcare Tech Outlook | Thursday, January 17, 2019

As the Internet of medical devices grows rapidly, a great deal of attention has been paid to the security aspect, with less time spent protecting the private information transmitted and stored on these instruments. However, this imbalance is changing, since the protection of patient data is a major concern. According to a survey by KPMG, healthcare and cybersecurity found that more than 80 percent of healthcare providers admitted that patient data had been compromised, even after significant cyber investments.

Medical devices are often the weak point in the technology landscape of a healthcare provider and could affect patient health, safety or privacy if compromised. The concern is even greater because medical equipment is connected to all major data centers in the hospital network, including EMR, PACS, RIS and more. To ensure the security of the connected devices, organizations go through some processes and procedures.

To secure the connected medical devices, the first step is to gain visibility and a thorough understanding of the present status of all connected devices on the system. With possibly thousands of medical devices in use in any given hospital, the first step is to prepare an inventory covering the whole system. Networks should also record a full device profile. The more detailed and granular the information held for each device, the easier it is to monitor, and identify vulnerabilities when changes, such as software patches, are needed.

Creating a prioritized risk assessment and remediation plan is an essential part of securing connected medical device. The risk assessment contributes to the broader security architecture of the organization, making certain medical devices and clinical asset safety networks with existing security protocols and controls, ensuring a holistic view of monitoring and protection. Another important part is the implementation of active prevention methods. The network of healthcare providers has many access points, and thus, it is essential to have a well-thought defense architecture that reduces the attack area. This implies that doctors and hospitals should adopt the paradigm of active prevention and enforcement of network hygiene.

Today, medical devices are all connected, and this connectivity increases the value to the organization but presents risks that need to be addressed. Incorporating cybersecurity in the development, testing, and maintenance process has become an essential task for healthcare organizations. This guarantees connectivity and its associated additional abilities, without undue exposure.

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