Are medical devices safe?

Published May 10, 2014   |   
Arezu Sarvestani

Medical device cybersecurity issues arrive at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual meeting, with reps from industry and regulation making the case for collaboration in the interest of patient safety.

It’ll take a village to ensure that medical devices are ready to face the increasingly threat-laden wireless world, speakers told a group of clinicians this week during Heart Rhythm 2014, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 35th Annual Scientific Sessions.

Medical devices are increasingly connected wirelessly with smartphones, websites and other healthcare systems, creating new “threat surfaces” for criminals interested in probing the devices for information or for sport.

Recent studies have found many technologies woefully lacking in even basic digital security measures and federal studies have warned that medical device may be of increasing interest to malicious hackers, especially if they’re connected with hospital systems that store patient information that they can sell on black markets.

Representatives from the medical device industry and the FDA urged care providers to get involved with efforts to promote healthcare cybersecurity. In addition to engaging in safer practices in hospitals (no more passwords written on sticky-notes attached to workstations), doctors and nurses can promote cybersecurity by asking the right questions from device makers and helping patients understand how vulnerabilities might impact their devices or care.

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