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Connected Medical Devices, Connected Risks?

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The Internet of Things has revolutionized many aspects of our daily lives — and the healthcare sector has certainly seen various forms of this disruption. Since the inception of electronic health record systems, technology has changed the way we access, keep track, and manage healthcare resources. In fact, according to Business Insider, the Internet of Medical Things market will reach about $158 billion in valuation by 2022.

Portal technology is one of the most popular examples of digitalization in healthcare. Through it, patients can log onto healthcare provider websites to monitor their records, schedule appointments, and perform other tasks. In addition, there are home monitoring systems that are designed to help both doctors and patients keep track of health status outside of the hospital setting.

Other technologies are also boosting efficiency and management of treatment, both in the healthcare setting and outside it. Medical wearables, for instance, do more than just count steps — today, there are wearables that log and transmit data through biosensors to give patients and doctors a more convenient way to monitor conditions and alleviate them. Similarly, talking medical devices and applications provide a range of functions, including issuing notifications when medications need to be taken or reminders for checking your blood pressure.

While the Internet of Things has done a lot to revolutionize access and management of healthcare services, the connectivity it brings has also raised some serious security questions. One of the most important of these, and one that deserves utmost consideration from designers and manufacturers of connected medical devices is: how do they stay protected?

The Security Factor: Vulnerabilities in Connected Medical Devices

Connected medical devices are prone to various security risks, and managing them is key to harnessing the best of these technologies. Here are some of the most prominent security vulnerabilities of connected medical devices:

The lack of need for physical proximity for vulnerability to be present. Connected medical devices typically use cloud solutions, which makes it easy for attackers to target them — even if they are not physically close by. The FDA and regulators in other countries require certain security precautions.

The lack of proper information in some healthcare organizations. Because of the popularity of connected medical devices, healthcare organizations have realized that they, too, need to be involved in the development process. More often than not, they partner with designers and manufacturers. While this is a good thing, it can also overextend their resources, particularly those that do not have enough knowledge on navigating and mitigating security risks.

The absence of a threat-centric approach to device design and development. Speaking of overextending resources, some healthcare organizations fail when it comes to treating design and development with a threat-centric approach — resulting in products that make it to the market with less than ideal capabilities in ensuring security and data protection.

How to Keep Connected Medical Devices Secure

If you want to ensure protection for your connected medical devices, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Consult security experts before, during, and after the development process to ensure that your devices are equipped with the right protection protocols against risks.
  • Make sure you are meeting the security requirements where your product will be used or sold.
  • Assess current security processes, as well as inventory traits and IT components, to vet their capacity to withstand attacks.
  • Design devices to employ information security assurance practices, such as installing updated system patches for validated and distributed devices, and validating security practices to make sure you are meeting compliance requirements.
  • Work with the right medical device designers. Partnering with designers that work with a threat-centric approach to design and development is important to releasing devices that will not compromise the information of consumers.

Voler Systems draws from our extensive experience and security expertise in designing medical devices for a wide range of functions. Since 1979, our design process mitigates technical risk, making your product easy to manufacture.Visit www.volersystems.com to learn more.

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