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IoT in Healthcare at Serious Cyber Attack Risk, Say Experts

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman

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Misuse of antibiotic drugs have lead to the threat of antimicrobial resistance, Pixabay

While the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve access and outcomes especially in the rural areas, companies must ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency, say experts.

In recent years, India has seen IoT adoption in education, governance and financial services. The technology has also enabled doctors see and interact with patients in remote telemedicine centres – with the case history and medical data automatically transmitted to the doctor for analysis.

“India has an acute shortage of doctors which impacts both the quality and reach of healthcare services in rural and urban centres,” John Samuel, Managing Director (health and public service) at Accenture, told IANS.

“A digital platform powered by advanced digital technologies can enable continuous remote patient monitoring and reporting, allowing hospitals to extend care to more people, and reduce the burden on healthcare infrastructure,” Samuel added.

According to the “IoT India Congress 2018”, the Indian IoT market is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2016 to $9 billion by 2020 across sectors such as telecom, health, vehicles and homes, among others.

It is emerging as the next big thing to become a $300 billion global industry by 2020 and India is all set to capture at least 20 per cent market share in the next five years, says a Nasscom report.

However, lack of basic security awareness among staff as well as state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions has made the healthcare industry a favourite target for hackers.

A 2016 report from cybersecurity firm SecurityScorecard found that healthcare is the fifth highest in ransomware counts among all industries, and more than 77 per cent of the entire healthcare industry has been infected with malware since August 2015.

FILE – The U.S. campaign for the smart use of antibiotics parallels similar efforts in Europe and Canada.

Among them was the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack in 2016 which affected over 300,000 machines across 150,000 countries, including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

“Despite suffering from ransomware attacks, organisations remain unprepared for the next round of large-scale attacks,” Yariv Fishman, Head of Product Management (Cloud Security and IoT) at Check Point Software Technologies, told IANS in an email interaction.

Fishman pointed out that it is not mandatory for medical device manufacturers to include cybersecurity capabilities as part of their offerings.

Once integrated into a hospital, medical devices are fully utilised to meet patient care requirements.

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As a result, even if a software patch that may prevent a potential cyber-attack is available, it usually takes lot of time for implementation.

Other reasons include old or unpatched operating systems and flat networks in which, guests, patients, doctors and connected medical devices, all share the same network.

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman.

“They also need to segment parts of the network in order to contain malware attacks and mitigate the potential risk of one part of the network attacking other parts and integrate threat prevention solutions,” he noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Microsoft Acquires Express Logic to Push IoT Dream

Microsoft is getting an established company with a proven product that can help it scale its Azure IoT business

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Microsoft has acquired San Diego-based software company Express Logic, that makes software for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to accelerate IoT development for billions of devices at scale.

With this acquisition, Microsoft said late Thursday it will unlock access to billions of new connected endpoints, grow the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to its Azure Cloud and enable new intelligent capabilities.

“I am incredibly excited to share we have acquired Express Logic, a leader in real time operating systems (RTOS) for IoT and edge devices powered by micro-controller units (MCUs),” said Sam George, Director, Azure IoT at Microsoft.

Manufacturers building products across categories — from low capacity sensors like light bulbs and temperature gauges to air conditioners, medical devices, and network appliances — leverage the size, safety and security benefits of Express Logic solutions to achieve faster time to market.

Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

“Even highly constrained devices (battery powered and having less than 64KB of flash memory) can use Express Logic solutions. Over 9 billion of these MCU-powered devices are built and deployed globally every year, many of which can benefit from Express Logic solutions,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft is getting an established company with a proven product that can help it scale its Azure IoT business.

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The acquisition is part of a $5 billion investment in IoT the company announced last April that includes a number of Azure pieces, such as Azure Sphere, Azure Digital Twins, Azure IoT Edge, Azure Maps and Azure IoT Central. (IANS)