26 May 2016

Hospital hacking poses serious health risks to patients

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Putting the power of technology in the palm of your hand with mobile medical devices is the way of the future. Hospitals are turning to technology for the diagnosis and treatment of patients but with more of this high tech gear being introduced into the field, this also opens the doors for hackers.

The vulnerability is more serious than stealing patients’ information. According to research conducted by Washington Post has highlighted the dangers of hackers digitally manipulating devices.

Last year, 2 researchers from a cyber-security firm called Qualys discovered digital weaknesses in over 300 medical devices from 40 different vendors. Some of them are lifesaving machines. Qualys’ research confirms the biggest problem is password protection.

Bill Rios from Qualys says it’s unacceptable that passwords used in hospitals are not frequently changed.

“Most of them had backdoor passwords, what that means is basically a set of passwords that can used to access devices to modify the way the device works. The security software of iTunes and your favourite web browser, it’s much more robust than any that we’ve seen in medical devices, and to me that’s unacceptable.”

In America, there have been several documented cases of non-life threatening medical equipment being manipulated over the years. Hospital computers, have been infected with viruses causing equipment to run slowly or incorrectly.  However in those instances it has caused financial damage however, no physical harm.

“Let’s not wait until that to happen before we start to improve on the security of medical devices,” says Mr Rios.

At the end of the day liability for hacked devices falls on the hospital. I believe we should bring this issue to the forefront and enforcing hospitals, manufacturers and regulatory bodies to confront these vulnerabilities before someone gets hurt.

What are your suggestions on how can the healthcare industries protect its patients?

To read more on the Washington post report, click here

The best part of my job as a Conference Production Manager is to create and manage my own conferences from concept to delivery, identify future conference topics as well as giving me a chance to expand my business card collection. Having a bit of a sweet tooth, you will always find me having lollies on my desk or you will catch me browsing on fashion sites during lunch breaks.

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