From mobile apps that assist with taking medicine on time to smart appliances that monitor vitals, the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming ubiquitous in healthcare. However, IoT’s expansion brings new risks, vulnerabilities, and security challenges for healthcare practitioners and their patients.
IoT security risks
Devices that contain a treasure trove of patient data are attractive targets for cybercriminals. Healthcare apps, for instance, contain plenty of sensitive information, including social security numbers, prescriptions, and medical histories. Should hackers ever get a hold of this information, they’ll be able to create fake IDs to buy drugs or medical equipment to resell.
In certain cases, an attacker could have direct control over IoT equipment, causing potentially lethal results.
In 2011, Johnson & Johnson warned patients about unsecured insulin pumps that allowed hackers to make unauthorized insulin injections. Even more terrifying, the FDA recently discovered almost half a million pacemakers were vulnerable to attacks and can be controlled (or shut down) remotely.
Vulnerable medical devices are also gateways to a secured network. Hackers can use compromised IoT devices to sneak ransomware and other types of malware onto a network, causing service disruptions and preventing practitioners from providing responsive treatment.
There are, however, a few things you can do to defend against these attacks.
Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication forces users to provide more information than just their username and password (e.g., SMS code, fingerprint, or retinal scan). By enabling this on your networks and devices, hackers will have a more difficult time accessing mission-critical data.
Encrypt your data
Another way to protect your business and your patients from a massive data breach is with encryption. Encoding electronic health records while they’re being transmitted or left in storage prevents hackers from reading and stealing sensitive information.
If possible, everything that is transmitted across your network should be encrypted automatically to secure the communication between IoT devices.
Install intrusion prevention systems
Since most IoT attacks are delivered via the internet, intrusion prevention systems are crucial to identify and block anomalies attempting to gain access to your network. This means hackers who try to remotely access or shut down your IoT equipment will be stopped before they damage your systems.
Last but not least, IoT manufacturers occasionally release security patches for their gadgets. Get in the habit of downloading these updates as soon they’re rolled out to ensure your device is safe from the latest threats.
When it comes to security, healthcare institutions have their work cut out for them. But whether you’re dealing with hardware security, data privacy, or compliance, it’s a good idea to partner with a managed services provider that specializes in helping the medical industry.
Call us today to see what we can do to protect you and your patients.