Hackers Target Medical Devices

Hacker is a term meaning either ‘a clever programmer’ or, when security is being breached, meaning ‘someone who tries to break into computer systems.’ Hackers have been gaining unauthorized access to computer systems around the world for as long as computers have existed. And now, in this world of devices such as smart phones, tablets, smart home devices, automated machines and medical equipment, the list of possibilities is endless for hackers. Like the rest of the Internet of Things (devices that range from cars to home thermostats) many medical devices communicate with servers via the internet, and many of them can be controlled remotely.

Insulin pumps and pacemakers are just two of the many devices currently being targeted with concern rising for devices such as surgical robots. Hackers ask for ‘ransom’ to release hold on the devices and the FBI reports that most hackers ask for in between $200 and $10,000.

For medical devices and machines, manufacturers must place any security measures into place – it is not something that the end user can do. As well as the devices used in the home, machines such as X-ray machines and MRI scanners may not be sending your results just to your physician if they have been hacked.  Or in other scenarios, medical records and test results may be altered by hackers.

In the fall of 2013, the Mayo Clinic assembled a ‘team’ of hackers, giving them a suite of medical devices, and asking them to hack away and do the worst they could…the group looked for backdoors into MRI machines, ultrasound equipment, ventilators, electroconvulsive therapy machines, and more. From these sessions, the Mayo Clinic had a new set of security requirements for its medical device suppliers.

As well as hacking into devices, the security of many health records has been breached over the years. Some large scale such as the Anthem breach and as reported by Microwize Technology, and some smaller breaches as well.

If you are in the medical field and would like to learn more about protection from security breaches, don’t compromise – – contact the professionals at Microwize Technology.


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