“The Internet of Things” is the concept of a network of physical objects equipped with embedded technology to interact with each other and with the external environment. Such a system is seen as a phenomenon capable of reshaping social and economic processes in the world since it eliminates the need for human participation in some operations. This huge system is in dire need of iomt cybersecurity every year. How big is this system?
In medicine, this category of equipment includes sensors for identifying and distributing clinic personnel, positioning systems for portable medical equipment, and RFID tags for monitoring drug stocks in-clinic pharmacies. “Smart pills” with an intake monitoring system, medication reminder devices, and nanoscale biochips for laboratory diagnosis too. Also, micro- and nanosensors for biomarker assessment, systems for monitoring patients in the clinic and their health indicators after discharge from hospital. Read more in the article.
More than a third (35.6%) of the healthcare-related IoT experts surveyed said their organizations experienced cybersecurity incidents in 2016. Identifying and mitigating risks in modern and outdated connected devices is the biggest challenge for the industry, 30.1 percent of respondents said. This is reported in Cogniteq’s survey results.
Implementing vulnerability management solutions during the design phase of medical devices (19.7%), monitoring and responding to information security incidents (19.5%), and lack of cooperation on cyber threat management across the connected medical device supply chain (17.9%) was cited by respondents as additional cybersecurity challenges.
Post-incident risk management efforts need to be undertaken in conjunction with cybersecurity risk management. However, a few respondents (18.6%) believe their organizations are “very prepared” to deal with litigation, internal investigations, or regulatory challenges over the next 12 months.
Healthcare cybersecurity practices
To protect against cyber threats in medical devices, Cogniteq recommends a layered approach. The team identified three main steps:
- Implement document hierarchies;
- Conduct at least annual product cybersecurity assessments;
- Take a forensic approach to incident response.
Ransomware attack with “guaranteed return”
Ransomware attacks are a favorite game-changer for hackers when it comes to IoMT devices.
Once a hacker gains unauthorized access to a medical device, they can:
- Disrupt its functioning,
- Turn them off temporarily,
- Make stored data inaccessible for viewing and use,
- Virtually lockout/freeze the devices,
- Change test results and other data.
If something like this happens, the healthcare industry will have no more time to respond, as every minute is a matter of life and death. When critical IoMT devices stop working, healthcare providers will be at risk unless they act quickly, that is, eradicate the attack or pay the ransom. But because of the urgency of the situation, paying the ransom often seems like the easy way out.
Lack of staff awareness of cyberspace
Healthcare is one of the worst industries for work-life balance. Work hours and shift times change frequently, work is stressful, and staff is often overworked. In this situation, expecting health care workers to undergo cyber training and smarts seems unreasonable. Consequently, hackers find medical workers to be easy victims of phishing, spam, and other types of fraud.
In fact, staff negligence and internal breaches were the main causes. 56% of all cyberattacks in the healthcare industry! One example of staff negligence can be seen in the Ordr study, which found that healthcare workers were viewing Facebook and YouTube using MRI and CT machines. Major IoMT devices and secondary devices such as printers, surveillance cameras, vending machines, and parking lot gates used the same Internet network. But 51% of IT professionals never check which devices are running on their network!
The age of IoMT devices
Large and expensive IoMT devices such as MRI machines, CT scanners, X-ray machines, etc. have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. But cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, and hackers are coming up with new hacking techniques at lightning speed. This means that these durable IoMT devices can’t handle the latest problems of the day. Obviously, you can’t blame the manufacturers here because they can’t make a machine with future threats in mind that they have no idea about. This is why IoMT devices are extremely vulnerable to next-generation cyber threats at the end of their lifecycle.
Hackers know this fact. Thus, it’s easy for them to target older machines, check their legacy systems, and exploit vulnerabilities. Hardware components are not easy to upgrade without manufacturer support. If you hire third-party developers to upgrade, you can void your warranty. When it comes to installing software patches, there are other issues with IoMT devices that bring us to the next point.
Fixing the clutter
Software updates are generally easier to install than hardware component updates. But this is not the case with IoT devices in the healthcare industry. Updating takes time, rendering the device unavailable for anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. In busy clinics, especially those dealing with acute care, it’s hard to take that kind of pause.
Another risk is data loss. As we know, the patching process can inadvertently delete stored data. IoMT devices store sensitive medical data and lifelong patient history, with test results and diagnoses that need to be protected at all costs. This means that you need to back up all this huge amount of data before installing patches. This is time-consuming and requires expensive servers or cloud storage platforms to back up your data.
Lack of measurable return on investment
It’s true that the healthcare industry is one of the most profitable, but its costs are huge, too. From paying high salaries to medical and nursing staff to buying heavy medical equipment and supplies, it has to deal with many inflated costs. That’s why management often pays less attention to cybersecurity. This includes hiring a security team, CISO, CTO, MDR partners, pentesters or PTaaS vendors, VMaaS vendors, etc.
In addition, you need to purchase security tools such as vulnerability scanners, firewalls, anti-malware software, threat detectors, etc. Costs typically seem unnecessary without any measurable return on investment. That’s why cybersecurity is often sidelined, making it an easy target for attackers.