Technological advancements have led to the manufacture of cutting-edge medical devices that facilitate more accurate diagnostics, better patient monitoring, improved treatments, and advanced data reporting. While these advancements contribute to enhanced patient care, they also have increased the risk of cyberattacks.
Connecting medical devices to a hospital network can offer many benefits, such as access to more timely and convenient patient care. However, having many medical devices connected to your hospital network creates more cybersecurity vulnerabilities that cybercriminals and hackers can exploit. Besides choosing hack-proof medical alert systems in Canada, there are many other effective ways to protect medical devices from cyberattacks. Here are a few ways to improve cybersecurity on your connected medical devices:
1. Inventory Network-Connected Medical Devices
Maintaining an up-to-date inventory of network-connected medical devices should be a top priority when it comes to improving cybersecurity. That’s because adding more medical devices to your hospital network increases the attack surface, and it can be difficult to monitor all these devices manually. When you don’t know what devices are connected to your hospital network, it’s nearly impossible to monitor and identify devices with high risk.
Therefore, your cybersecurity team should have an inventory of each network-connected medical device and its location to effectively improve cybersecurity. The best way to achieve that is by automating the discovery and classification of connected medical devices to allow for more accurate and real-time inventory. For instance, an inventory system can allow you to see connected devices and quickly identify gaps in the network. It will also track newly added devices to the network and other crucial information, such as the device’s exact location. This way, you can quickly identify a breached device in the network and mitigate security risks.
2. Segment the Network
While you can’t install antivirus and antimalware software on most medical devices, you can protect them from external breaches using firewalls, white lists, and network segmentation. Network segmentation is crucial for preventing cyberattacks from spreading throughout the entire network. Your network administrators can segment connected medical devices on isolated networks to create internal barriers and prevent attackers from penetrating the network.
By restricting access to the network, you secure critical medical devices from external threats. Apart from preventing lateral movement of threats and attacks, keeping connected devices on isolated networks helps reduce network congestion and enable internal communication monitoring. You can even create access policies around the network segments to add extra protection for your medical devices.
3. Run Frequent Audits
Another proven way to improve cybersecurity on your connected medical devices is running regular audits on your tech infrastructure. Through inventory management, you can effectively monitor your network-connected devices, staff computers, and other hospital equipment, making it easier to identify potential vulnerabilities before they cause network and data breaches.
Real-time cybersecurity monitoring of medical devices can help secure sensitive information, such as patient data. It also helps ensure your system is always online, which is crucial to patient health. The most effective way to monitor your network of devices is to run frequent system audits. By running regular audits on your network, you ensure no new medical devices or communications between devices go undetected long enough to become vulnerable to cyberattacks.
4. Update the Technology
Most medical devices have a long lifespan, and most people use them for years without running any software updates. However, using medical devices with outdated software can make your network vulnerable to breaches, considering cybercriminals now use more advanced and sophisticated techniques. Thus, it’s critically important that you ensure all your medical devices have the latest version of cybersecurity software to prevent attacks from new and emerging malware.
Run software updates regularly and purchase new software when required to ensure your entire network of medical devices complies with industry standards. If you face challenges updating outdated devices, you may want to first upgrade to newer models to be able to install the latest software versions when they become available. Ensure to also regularly update user accounts and passwords to protect your network from unauthorized access and potential external attacks.
Understanding the potential threats to connected medical devices can help you take proactive steps to improve your cybersecurity. Alongside the tips above, educate your employees on the most at-risk pieces of tech to improve the cybersecurity of your connected medical devices. Be sure to maintain an up-to-date inventory of connected medical devices and strictly follow industry guidelines and regulations regarding medical device cybersecurity.