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Healthcare IoT Security: Is it Really Flourishing?

The healthcare industry, in a bid to speed up data entry and recording and improve data accuracy, is moving toward medical equipment connectivity. Additionally, there has also been a shift toward incorporating consumer mobile devices, including wearables, so that healthcare providers can monitor patients’ health more closely and improve treatment. The number of connected medical devices, currently estimated to be approximately 10 billion, is expected to increase to 50 billion over the next 10 years.

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The smarter devices from major brands such as Apple and Fitbit incorporate more sensors and improved algorithms and have access to historical underlying data which makes them useful for monitoring user health. About one-third of all wearables sold in 2018 Q1 included cellular connectivity. Medical equipment manufacturers are also increasingly incorporating connectivity into their products. However, connecting wearables to networks comes at the cost of increased security risks.

The increase in the number of IoT and connected devices being used within hospitals increases the chances of exposure to potential devices too. Ranging from MRI machines to insulin pumps, the sheer number of devices in a single hospital also means that staff are often unaware of threats, so breaches can go undetected. Network-connected medical devices “promise an entirely new level of value for patients and doctors, but they also introduce new cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could affect clinical operations and put patient care at risk.

75 percent of healthcare organizations experienced a cybersecurity incident last year. But still, the attitude toward cybersecurity have been mixed, with seventy-one percent of the healthcare organizations responding to an HIMSS survey last year saying they had allocated a budget for cybersecurity Based on the firm’s research though,53 percent of healthcare providers and 43 percent of medical device manufacturers do not test their medical devices for security, and only a few are doing anything about being hacked. Adding to the woes, hospitals’ IT security budgets are relatively low, so they have a relaxed security posture, with unsecured connected medical devices being the golden ticket for hackers, especially because patient data is valued at approximately 10 times the value of a standard credit card.

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