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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

Apple CEO Tim Cook Bullish on Preventative Healthcare Technology, AR

I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it's not a product per se, it's a core technology," he said

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Tim Cook
Apple CEO Time Cook. Wikimedia Commons

Calling Augmented Reality (AR) the next big thing in technology, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reiterated his commitment towards building more preventive healthcare tools in devices like Apple Watch.

In a conversation with IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan here on Monday, Cook said the company is investigating technology that could help identify health risks at an early stage, reports Silicon Republic.

“I think you can take that simple idea of having preventive things and find many more areas where technology intersects healthcare, and I think all of our lives would probably be better off for it,” Cook said.

The cost of healthcare can “fundamentally be taken down, probably in a dramatic way” by integrating healthcare technologies in consumer devices like Apple Watch, he added.

The medical fraternity has welcomed the ECG app and irregular rhythm notification feature on Apple Watch (Series 4 and 5) that can help identify atrial fibrillation, or AFib which is the most common form of arrhythmia.

The sound-monitoring Noise app and menstrual cycle tracking Cycle app have also been released with watchOS 6.

“Most of the money in healthcare goes to the cases that weren’t identified early enough. It will take some time but things that we are doing now — that I’m not going to talk about today — those give me a lot of cause for hope,” Cook told Shanahan.

Tim Cook
New iPhones worth the cost: Tim Cook. IANS

There have been numerous cases where Apple Watch has saved lives globally.

IDA also presented Cook with the inaugural ‘Special Recognition Award’ for Apple’s 40 years of investment in Ireland.

Calling AR the “next big thing” in tech, Cook said he thinks it’s something that doesn’t isolate people.

“We can use it to enhance our discussion, not substitute it for human connection, which I’ve always deeply worried about in some of the other technologies,” said the Apple CEO.

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Cook always compared AR with the ubiquitous smartphones.

“I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge,” Cook told The Independent newspaper.

I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology,” he said. (IANS)