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Are Unsecure Medical Devices Opening the Backdoor for Hackers?

August 17, 2016

The increased adoption of connected devices into medical services and processes is streamlining and improving the manner in which medicine can be tracked, developed, sourced and distributed.
On call/off site medical staff are also able to access information and source medicine on site, improving service levels and productivity. However, the exponential advantages of integrating connected devices into this industry can potentially open up points of vulnerability which should increase security fears for decision makers.
The biggest threat to any organization, large or small, is understanding who actually has access to information and at what levels they can access the network. With the Internet of Things (IoT), access can come in many shapes and sizes, from an off site doctor accessing medical history and prescription requirements to ambulance and emergency staff needing to log cases.
Medical/health institutions must prioritize the management of user access if they want to ensure they have the adequate security levels around these access points. The variety of job roles that need to access a vast array of files from a connected network will also require different levels of access, for example a doctor on call will need access to all previous medical history and prescription requirements, whereas an on-call care worker may only need medical history and is not qualified to distribute or access prescriptive files.
Therefore organizations must ensure that the right person is accessing the network or device, each time a request takes place with the correct level of attributed trust. However, individual access identification may now not be sufficient enough to fully eliminate security and safety fears in this area.
Although the correct person may have access to a network from a specific place and use the correct logins, there is no guarantee that a rogue infiltrator hasn’t “piggy backed” the connection giving them the same level of access as the individual.
Through effectively moonlighting as the employee or third party, hackers can utilize the open connection to the network to gain the same level of access as the member of staff. This may encourage hackers to potentially target gateway devices such as medical distribution tools that require a network connection. The device in this instance doesn’t hold or contain sensitive information, however it does act as a gateway onto the network.
Now, it is here that access management solutions must be considered to allow damage limitation to take place if a hack does happen, providing granular access controls and monitoring for every access request.
We know hackers use a variety of methods to gain access from rogue emails to downloadable PDF’s that open access to personal and organizational data. However, security implications must also be considered on a more tangible level, in addition to digital and internet driven attacks. If we take reference from the Barclays hack that took place in 2013 and cost the bank £1.3 million, it helps us uncover the level of simplicity, but outright tenacity that some hackers will go to in hope of gaining access to data. This hack saw insiders pose as IT engineers and fitted a device that gave access to its network remotely and allowed them to transfer money into their own accounts.
There are two recommended strategies for organizations to protect themselves against hacks such as this. Firstly, to ensure all staff are trained on the variety of risks that are present when exchanging emails or other digital communications. Secondly, organizations need to protect their networks by securely supervising, auditing and controlling access to their assets, data and IP via a privileged access managed solution.
The increased adoption of connected devices into medical services and processes is streamlining and improving the manner in which medicine can be tracked, developed, sourced and distributed.

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