Why IoT Security in Healthcare is Crucial

Why IoT Security in Healthcare is Crucial

Fact: Medical devices are often designed with convenience and functionality in mind, rather than security.

When it comes to health care, the stakes are high. That’s why IoT security for healthcare is crucial. IoT devices are becoming increasingly prevalent in healthcare. From wearable devices to medical implants, these devices have the potential to revolutionize patient care. However, they also introduce new security risks.

Medical devices are often designed with convenience and functionality in mind, rather than security. This can make them easy targets for attackers. If an attacker gains access to a device, they could potentially exploit it to steal sensitive data or disrupt critical operations.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has also become a powerful tool for individuals and businesses to leverage. By connecting devices to a network, they can be utilized to generate vast volumes of crucial information that aid in business models and effective process management.

In healthcare institutions, IoT devices are just like regular networked devices. It is crucial that these devices are kept safe as part of cyber security practices in the industry. Healthcare institutions have some powerful options available to them to secure their attack surface in this modern age, though. 

Sepio, for example, has developed a solution for healthcare IoT security. Their solution monitors IoT hardware devices, in real-time to give healthcare facilities full asset visibility.

Healthcare industry Uses of IoT Technology

Advancements in healthcare IoT devices are being made at a rapid pace with healthcare institutions taking full advantage of the improvements they bring. 

Handheld Smart Devices

These devices are typically utilized to give caregivers immediate access to accurate patient history and up-to-date diagnostic and personal information. This is possibly one of the healthcare industry’s most useful and widely utilized IoT devices.

Some institutions even pair these handheld devices with other technologies like smart pens. Apart from the ability to be used for writing, these pens can record pen strokes and transmit information to servers in real-time.

Monitoring Tools

A large part of any healthcare institution’s data collection comes from monitoring patient vitals in real-time. For this purpose, monitors can be utilized that are capable of remotely connecting to nurses’ or caregivers’ stations or even their own mobile devices. It provides greatly increased versatility since a patient can now be mobile throughout the ward or even the entire hospital. 

Remotely Operated Medical Pumps

These kinds of pumps make up the majority of IoT devices in use. From general-use infusion pumps to insulin pumps for diabetic patients, medical pumps ensure that patients receive closely regulated quantities of fluids such as blood, medicine, and insulin.

However, the bad news is that according to a recent study, 75% of tested smart Infusion Pumps were found vulnerable to remote attacks.

Medical IoT pumps allow caregivers to monitor patients recovering from home, providing quality of life to those who otherwise would have been confined to hospitals. Typically, these devices need to conform to security standards prescribed by the NIST.

These are just some of the many devices in use by the healthcare industry today.

How has IoT Transformed the Healthcare Industry? 

From the list above it should be clear that not only have IoT devices in healthcare improved the mobility of patients, but it has also had a significant impact on the available medical staff.

IoT devices have improved the care given by healthcare institutions too. By providing timely and accurate diagnostic information to caregivers, medical decisions can be made in time to save lives, improving the quality of care for so many people.

Healthcare IoT an Unmistakable Target

Looking back at the devices we covered, we should also mention that these devices are amongst the most attacked by threat actors. Gaining access to personally identifiable patient information along with a good chance of seizing financial information too, can be a massive payload to threat actors.

Ransomware attacks are one of the most common cyber security attacks aimed at Medical IoT devices. Healthcare institutions would typically need to cooperate since the lives of their patients can be endangered by these threat actors. 

In some cases, IoT devices may even be used to launch attacks on other systems. For example, the WannaCry ransomware attack on England’s NHS exploited a flaw in Windows XP that had been previously identified by the NSA. The attack impacted hospitals around the world, causing appointment cancellations and disrupting patient care.

Although the trend is changing, most healthcare institutions don’t necessarily care whether devices are HIPAA compliant, or whether they are sufficiently encrypted. Threat actors easily target these healthcare IoT devices. 

Why is IoT Security so Crucial in the Healthcare Industry?

An inadequate cyber security system could mean the difference between life and death for a patient if it is not in place. By neglecting the remediation of vulnerabilities in healthcare IoT devices vast volumes of personal patient information could leak during a breach. Having devastating effects on both patients and the institutions they trusted with their information and care.

Conclusion

The unfortunate truth is that the healthcare industry will remain a high-level target for threat actors and that healthcare institutions need to ensure that they do everything in their power to keep IoT devices safe from breaches. Making IoT security crucial to this industry.

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