Healthcare: Security risks for Medical IoT devices

RPM providers have the responsibility to address privacy and security issues. Here is how to address these issues, grow your revenue and remain compliant.

The adoption of IoT in healthcare is on the rise, with Medical IoT device revenues expected to quadruple from US$177.6 billion in 2021 to over $467.25 billion by 2027, according to a report by Markets&Markets. As Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) manufacturers and providers continue to adopt IoT technology, it is crucial that they provide robust and uncompromised security to protect patient information and their devices from potential security incidents and data breaches.

The wireless medical device market is expected to continue its substantial growth all over the world, adding another $17 billion in revenue by 2025 as governments seek to increase efficiencies via digitalization and remote outpatient care. The increasing use of IoT in healthcare, while promising, also brings security concerns that must be addressed. Devices connected to the internet face potential security risks that could compromise information and systems, as well as undermine patient safety through poor or weak security controls and protocols.

To combat these security risks, device manufacturers must implement "security by design" and "security by default" principles while building devices, and RPM solution providers should offer a secure path to connectivity that fulfills certain security baselines and offers strong security controls to reduce the risk of data breaches. Cybersecurity processes, such as network segmentation, real-time monitoring, and private IP addressing are also essential to preventing medical device IoT attacks.

Cyberattacks in Healthcare: Dangerous and Costly

According to a 2022 Cyber Threat Report, ransomware attacks cost healthcare organizations and estimated $20.8 billion in 2020, with almost 600 healthcare provider facilities falling victim to the malware. The healthcare industry alone faced a 755% increase in those attacks in 2021.

Furthermore, healthcare institutions are more likely to pay ransoms promptly, making them more vulnerable. Hackers have also been known to take control of medical devices, altering their configurations or parameters, which could potentially turn them into greater threats.To put things in perspective; a change in any of the values measured by an oximeter or glucose reading can lead to medical providers advising the wrong recommendation of medication doses, which can lead to detrimental consequences.

To protect against these threats, IoT managed services organizations should provide RPM and telehealth providers with tools such as:

  • Secure path to connectivity via private “direct access”
  • IoT and data management platform that allows for tracking, monitoring and analytics
  • Accurate inventory of IoT devices and related assets
  • Provide network segmentation, protecting each of its subsets at each level
  • Real-time monitoring and detection capabilities
  • Encrypting data based on their criticality level (e.g., PI, PII, PHI, etc.).
  • Implementing authentication mechanisms

Three Important Cybersecurity Considerations for IoMT

Here are three considerations for device makers, manufacturers, and solution providers that can help with additional security for your devices.  

  1. Ward off malicious code

Malicious code insertion is a common security threat in wireless medical devices that can derail the device to execute the wrong software instead of the real, authentic code. This can eliminated by using authenticating software. When a malicious code is detected, the device should be programmed to trigger a countermeasure, that deactivates the malicious software.

  1. Secure backdoors

Product developers can easily shut open back doors with a debug port that can be locked and unlocked with an encrypted key, preventing unauthorized access while allowing easy yet safe field diagnostics and updates.

  1. Ensure software and firmware maintenance

Medical devices have a long operational life before being disposed, and software updates might be needed during their lifespan. This opens a potential opportunity for hacking. The security design of a medical product should include considerations on how the device will be managed safely – including how the installed device base is safely managed via over-the-air (OTA), authenticating the update file, encrypting the whole process, and guaranteeing an unaltered firmware image via the secure boot.

It All Starts with You

As the adoption of IoT in healthcare continues to grow, it is crucial that device makers, manufacturers, and solution providers take the necessary steps to secure medical IoT devices from the design phase. By implementing security by design and offering secure connectivity options, RPM and telehealth organizations can provide the necessary safeguards to ensure patient safety and protect against cyber threats.

At Kajeet we can assist in upgrading devices to work wirelessly – we offer a FREE Module Developer Kit – that allows RPM and telehealth organizations to quickly deploy and test their connected solutions with a set of world-class IoT data and management tools.

If you would like to know more about the options available to you and how our wireless connectivity can improve privacy and security for your IoT devices, contact one of our experts today!

Talk to Us about Your Connected Health Solution

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