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Cybercriminals and hackers are always searching for easy targets to steal personal information. One of the most vulnerable is the healthcare sector. There have already been significant security breaches, such as the incident in 2017 that infected the NHS computer systems with ransomware. Many lessons were learned then, but there are many more measures you need to take to protect your medical devices.
Why are Medical Devices at Risk?
There has been significant growth for the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Devices such as syringe drivers and MRI scanners link to a common network, increasing efficiency when dealing with patients and accessing medical records. In addition, such devices offer the benefit of being operated in any global location. Their purpose is to provide easy integration with the main healthcare system. However, this ease of use leaves the entire network open to cyberattacks and malicious software. As a result, security is often secondary to medical attention, particularly when healthcare facilities are experiencing unprecedented stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cybercriminals view medical devices as weak links, providing them with an easy route for infiltrating a large, relatively secure system. Security for additional devices often proves deficient if identification is unclear. Improving security also relies on medical devices being sourced from trustworthy manufacturers. Departments could enhance security with inventories of medical devices. They should be instantly recognizable by their unique digital reference in software and hardware formats. The aim should be a streamlined integration process that’s secure and reliable.
Devices for Specific Tasks
Weak areas exploited by hackers are particularly at risk when devices are misused. Using medical devices to access e-mail or internet browsing should be severely discouraged. Data flow is a problem with information from external sources often being innocently imported into a system. E-mail attachments are a common method of installing minute pieces of malicious software into a healthcare network. Reliance on unverified third parties for informative data can be particularly hazardous as even inexperienced hackers find them an easy entry point.
Remote working is becoming more popular for data record entry. But it can potentially increase the vulnerability of healthcare networks, especially if devices are subject to unauthorized use. Linking these external devices to smaller networks sharing a common topic or function can help reduce the risk of extensive network infiltration. In addition, by creating zones, any successful cyberattack can be limited to only one zone and not spread throughout the main system. A zone can easily be enforced by removing access to critical areas not directly required by such a localized network.
Reliable User Accounts
Failure to upkeep the data and accounts of employees leaves healthcare networks open to cybercrime. Any alterations such as name changes or new addresses should be immediately entered into a system. In addition, employees who leave for a new job in another department or different industry should have their user accounts immediately disabled. Unreliable user account management provides hackers with one of the easiest methods of infecting a medical network with malicious software.
Medical devices continually connecting to a centralized system should be routinely managed. Regular updating of passwords should be encouraged. Access to sensitive data should be restricted to only a few senior management positions. All forms of stored data can be easily protected through 128-bit encryption. This system is regarded as the most reliably secure. It should be applied to all levels of data to prevent hackers from finding a weak access point in records requiring less urgent security.
Investing in Premium Software
Any organization can only expect its network and connected devices to have the level of security it is prepared to pay for. For example, it may be tempting to cut expenditure in a healthcare system by reducing security for medical records. Officials setting a healthcare budget may consider security managers less urgent than new medical equipment or supplies. But for the long-term health of a medical network and its many devices, superior security is vital. Investing in the highest quality security software can only benefit the entire network and prevent hackers from infiltrating its system.
Digital healthcare devices are now an integral part of many healthcare systems. They need to be properly accounted for with recognizable identification codes. Restricting some devices to a small zone can help safeguard a more extensive healthcare network from cyberattacks. Understanding the sources of where external information is accessed is also a vital measure. By investing in superior security software and management, cybercrime in the medical field should be controllable.