Can a Hacker Hijack Your Medical Device? - Gadget Victims

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Can a Hacker Hijack Your Medical Device?

medical devices
Technology has a tremendous impact on the medical field. Innovations in technology have advanced to the point where patients can control medical devices with the touch of a button.
Surgeries are completed with the assistance of robots. And diagnostics are more precise than ever.
Most medical devices are connected to the internet and a network that communicates between devices, patients, and healthcare providers. While this is an advantage for patients, it is also an advantage for some unorthodox criminals. Criminals have increasingly targeted medical devices that are connected to a network that they can hack into.

Why Hack into Medical Devices?

Last year, hackers hijacked Health Management Concepts in Jupiter, Florida. The hackers entered the system and encrypted data related to more than 502,000 patients. With their system encrypted, all of those patients were at risk of injury or even death because their medical devices were no longer stable. 
Why would hackers attack medical devices? Because they know that medical device operators will take the threat and their demands seriously. For Health Management Concepts, hackers demanded a substantial payment before they unencrypted the system. The amount was not disclosed, but Health Management Concepts confirmed they met the demand. 
Situations like this one are increasing, according to officials. The U.S. government is currently investigating 26 more hacking attempts in Florida, all related to medical facilities. There are hundreds of additional hacking threats or incidents across the U.S. 

The Risk for Patients

Not only does hacking into medical device systems compromise stability of the medical devices connected, but it also compromises patient information. The risk for patients is not limited to certain devices. The healthcare industry as a whole has been attacked in various incidents. Hospitals have experienced hacking into electronic medical records. MRI and other diagnostic test results have been compromised or delayed. 
No matter which system is impacted, hacking into medical devices or systems is a tremendous risk for patients. 

Can Hackers be Stopped?

Anyone who is tech-savvy will know that hackers are a unique breed. Their skills in using technology are incredible, and there is very little that will stop them in their efforts. However, the series of hacker attacks in the medical industry have resulted in a greater focus on cybersecurity. 
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended a 2014 guide with the cybersecurity bill of materials. In this guide, they identify technology that is most likely to be compromised or corrupted. They also identify vulnerabilities in current cybersecurity measures. And lastly, the FDA has established new regulations for cybersecurity. These changes will likely impact the FDA approval process for certain medical devices as cybersecurity needs change. 
The healthcare industry has responded swiftly to the FDA’s demands. New technology and software are being implemented, and better safeguards  installed. Furthermore, the healthcare industry now has a better idea of what the risks are. This will help hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical technology companies be better prepared to mitigate risks and protect patient safety. 
James Perkins


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