From wirelessly connected fax machines to network-integrated treatment equipment, the modern-day healthcare facility has a full list of things that must be a part of their network. As convenient as the IoT may be for modern practices, every device adds a potential point of security vulnerability. Each new addition offers incredible convenience and functionality to a healthcare operation, and many of these connected devices have become quite standard in modern practices.
Something as simple as an insecure email generates a new onslaught of security concern, but when you look at the thousands of things that must maintain a network connection, those concerns seem somehow minimal by comparison. Managing privacy and utmost security with every new device has become a challenge simply because these devices have all-out exploded in the medical arena. Here are a few tips to remember where securing IoT in healthcare is concerned.
Supreme reliability generates points of security weakness all on its own.
There is a huge disadvantage with some smart medical devices; these units are created to be far more reliable than something man-operated. These devices are often used for treating severe ailments and are often deemed as “high criticality devices.” These devices, by all rights, maybe keeping a patient alive during treatment. As great as this is for patients, it also means the manufacturers of such connected units are extremely hesitant to make changes to operational functions for fear of compromising reliability.
It is not uncommon for some devices to go for many years without updates, rarely get a new patch for security reasons, and end up being highly vulnerable points of access on an organization’s network. Non-updated legacy software may not be designed to thwart incoming attacks.
You have to have a map of IoT architecture to fight security threats properly.
IoT is not the same as something like a network of computers. These units rely on a network differently, and they all usually have different usage patterns. On the contrary, a system of computers would likely all act and connect in the same way, maybe even at the same times. These variances make securing these devices a little more complicated.
As the operator of a medical organization, it will be critical that you have a detailed map of your IoT devices. This map should show how and when devices are used, where they are located, and what measures have been taken to keep them secure. This kind of mapping process affords an awareness when you need to understand the risks that are apparent and how they can be amended or tended to.
The Future of IoT in Healthcare
If there is one thing that is expected to stay consistent in healthcare, it is how IoT will continue to grow and flourish as a necessary component. Therefore, even if you are steadily ignoring some of the risks now with the few smart devices you have, that will definitely not be wise as time goes by. It is best to fully understand the network of devices you have, fully assess and address all security concerns, and continue to work with an IT security expert to make new amendments with every new device added to your operation.
Mike Bowe | Published on July 16, 2019