The healthcare industry is critical to us as our lives and safety depend on it. However, as technology continues to advance and evolve within this sector, so do the cybersecurity threats. This blog post will discuss why cybersecurity risk management should be a top priority for healthcare organizations and how IoMT devices can be made more secure for the same.
The security risks of IoMT devices
You know IoT, but what is an IoMT device? The IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) is a new era for medical devices where everyday objects such as blood pressure monitors or fitness trackers are connected through the Internet. IoMT devices offer benefits like faster diagnosis, improved patient outcomes, etc., but they also pose some cybersecurity risks.
Most IoMT devices come with security as an add-on feature instead of an in-built feature during device implementation. The lack of such crucial features can lead to unauthorized access control, poor system configuration, and the absence of audit logs. This makes it easier for cyber hackers to infiltrate networks by bypassing security. Hackers might use the information collected from such networks and IoMT devices for malign purposes, for example, sending patients false test results or sending them unsolicited advertisements for medication.
Complex communication protocols specific to the healthcare industry make it hard for IoMT devices to be safe and secure. For example, implantable cardiac devices such as pacemakers pose a high risk to patients. Hackers can easily hack and cause DoS, or denial-of-service, attacks on the device, causing complications and unfortunate deaths. Like so, other connected medical devices such as Wi-Fi-enabled infusion pumps and smart MRI machines all are susceptible to cyberattacks in one form or another.
Such vulnerabilities and others often go undetected because of multiple reasons, such as incomplete risk assessment, lack of sufficient cyber security controls, lack of strong in-house expertise for clinical and medical vulnerabilities. The current reactive approach to cybersecurity risk management can lead to severe security lapses in IoMT. If left unchecked, the situation can worsen and can lead to hospital shutdowns, risk of patient safety, and financial losses.
The need of the hour for healthcare IT teams is to determine how to handle the data load securely. Healthcare IT professionals need to develop a better understanding of the various types of cyber threats emerging in the healthcare sector. Medical device manufacturers need to acknowledge and inculcate more responsible ways of producing life-saving devices.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities need trusted cyber risk management solutions to improve their security practices and minimize the risk of attacks on IoT devices within their network.
Why is it so hard to protect IoMT devices effectively?
According to the CyberMDX Clinical Connectivity report, 80 percent of the device makers and healthcare delivery organizations report that medical devices are very difficult to secure. This is mainly because of a lack of knowledge or training on secure coding practices among healthcare professionals. On top of that, the pressure on developers to meet product delivery deadlines and intended longevity expectations are some of the major pain points.
Generally, most medical IoMT devices are built to last 10, 15, and even 20 years. Once they go faulty, they need replacement or need to be upgraded to the next generation of devices instead of being repaired. As most organizations are trying to juggle multiple priorities and have a budget, regular upgrade of such devices is not economically feasible for all. And even if they go for security patching beyond the vendor’s guidelines, the devices become void of warranty.
Such barriers explain why almost 50 percent of hospital network endpoints are unmanaged and unsecured IoMT devices. There are certain ways healthcare professionals can better approach cyber risk management associated with IoMT devices. Let’s take a look at them.
Cyber risk mitigation for IoMT devices
There are spaces in which cybersecurity risk needs to be mitigated with a critical priority. Healthcare security professionals and MedTech companies do acknowledge that such grave threats to cybersecurity cannot be ignored, but there lies a need to adopt a “security by design” approach. This approach will include real-time monitoring, threat mitigation, cyber threat modeling and analysis, and remediation.
The best approach for IT leaders would take into consideration three major aspects – visibility, monitoring, and segmentation of sensitive information to safeguard against cyber threats and attacks in the future. Furthermore, IoMT device manufacturers would benefit by entering into strategic partnerships with cybersecurity management services to enhance the privacy and protection of patient data.
IoMT is growing at an exponential rate as it has the ability to deliver advanced patient engagement, among other healthcare services. Nonetheless, healthcare companies and IT leaders must consider the gravity of the situation and implement cyber risk management solutions in time to safeguard crucial patient data and health records. They should be aware of the vulnerabilities in their IoMT device network and take steps to guard against cyberattacks on medical devices.
YouTube: Cybersecurity concerns facing the healthcare industry
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Gorodenkoff.