It is no secret that medical devices are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services states that attacks on the healthcare sector have been steadily increasing over the years. There has been an increase of over 45% in attacks on the healthcare industry.
Many of these attacks are aimed at stealing patient data for ransom purposes. But, there have also been cases where hackers have taken control of medical devices. This raises serious concerns about the safety and security of patients who rely on these devices for their care.
While all medical devices are at risk of being hacked, some devices are more vulnerable than others. Here are a few examples of medical devices that need OT security:
There have been no reported attacks on insulin pumps. But, security researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to hack into these devices. After gaining control, it is possible to change the insulin dose remotely. This can lead to serious health consequences for patients if their blood sugar levels are not controlled.
For example, in 2012, a researcher found that he could hack into an insulin pump and change the insulin dose remotely. He did this by reverse engineering the pump’s radio frequency (RF) communication protocol. He then created a device that could mimic the pump’s signal. Moreover, he could change the insulin dose without the patient’s knowledge. This research demonstrates that being vulnerable to attack, they put the safety of patients at risk.
Pacemakers are another type of medical device that is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In 2017, research brought to light the fact that it is possible to hack into a pacemaker and change the pacing settings remotely. It resulted in the recall of over 500,000 pacemakers. This could potentially be lethal for patients if their heart rate is not properly controlled.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs)
ICDs are devices that are implanted in patients to help control their heart rates. Like pacemakers, it is possible to hack into an ICD and change the defibrillation settings remotely. This could be lethal for patients if the heart rate goes beyond control.
In 2018, a hacker group, Orangeworm, infected X-Ray machines. While there have been no reports of patients being harmed by this type of attack, it is alarming that they could do it. Organizations that use X-ray machines need to ensure that the machines are secured against such cyberattacks.
CT scanners are yet another type of medical device that is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Hacking into a CT scanner allows hackers to change the machine’s settings and potentially expose patients to harmful radiation levels. This can be extremely dangerous for patients.
Attackers can also target hospital networks to access medical devices and patient data. This can lead to serious consequences for patients, as well as for the hospital itself.
For example, in 2016, a ransomware attack on a hospital in Hollywood, California, led to the hospital being forced to pay a ransom to regain access to its computer systems. This attack caused the hospital to cancel all surgeries and appointments for a while.
Besides these, there are many other types of medical devices that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and need OT security. These include MRI machines, ultrasound machines, and even tech-enabled hospital beds.
How To Protect Medical Devices From Attacks
There are a few things that hospitals and other organizations can do to protect their medical devices from being hacked.
Implement Vulnerability Management Practices and Policies
OT vulnerability management involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating vulnerabilities in devices and systems. Thus, implementing these policies can help minimize the risk of devices being hacked. For example, with vulnerability management in place, staff might be more likely to install security patches promptly.
If you are planning to practice vulnerability management, here are some vulnerability management best practices that you can follow:
- Conduct regular vulnerability scans
- Invest in robust asset inventorying
- Review management priorities from time to time
- Combine automation with manual processes
Update And Patch Their Devices
First, they should ensure that all of their devices are properly updated and patched. Many of the attacks that have been carried out on medical devices have been possible because the devices were not updated.
As a result, it is important for hospitals to keep their devices up-to-date with the latest security patches by following the best patch management practices. Patching helps reduce the attack surface available to attackers, while upgrading helps improve an organization’s security posture by providing new features and fixing old ones. These processes help ensure that the devices are safeguarded to a good extent from an attack.
Use Device Management Systems
Second, hospitals and other organizations should use device management systems. These systems can help to monitor and manage devices remotely. This can help detect potential attacks and respond to them quickly.
Hospitals and other organizations should train their employees on how to use and secure medical devices by following the best cybersecurity practices. This will help to ensure that devices are used correctly and are not left unsecured. This helps protect devices and networks against a wide range of cyberattacks.
For example, employees should be trained on how to install security patches and updates on devices. They should also be taught how to minimize the risk of being hacked. Similarly, they should be made aware of the importance of not leaving devices unsecured.
Implement Strong Cybersecurity Policies
Finally, hospitals and other organizations should implement strong cybersecurity policies. These policies should cover all aspects of medical device security, from updates and patches to employee training.
Hospitals also need to ensure that these policies are adhered to diligently. This can be done by regularly monitoring devices and employee behavior. This, in turn, ensures a high degree of security against cyberattacks.
We can see that there are many types of medical devices that need OT security. These devices are vulnerable to attacks that can affect patients and hospital operations. As a result, it is important for hospitals to take the steps mentioned in the blog to protect their devices from being hacked.