The risks of smart medical devices
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The line between the human body and the machine begins to blur. The emergence of ‘smart’ medical devices connected to the human body to monitor health and improve our well-being is accelerating rapidly. This has given rise to what we know as Internet of Bodies. The use of these devices to monitor different parameters of our body has undoubted advantages, but it also implies risks for the privacy and physical integrity of the subject.
In November 2017, the Federation of Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first use of a “digital pill” that communicates from inside a patient’s stomach through sensors, a smartphone, and Internet. A year earlier, the FDA approved the first artificial pancreas, a device that monitors and treats patients with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.
In August 2017, the FDA issued a statement warning patients that a serious security vulnerability in their embedded medical device code could allow an attacker to compromise the pacemaker and jeopardize their health. This event marked the first FDA recall of a device due to a data security issue.
The increasing interconnection of medical devices and the lack of cybersecurity make the health sector especially vulnerable
How many more devices are connected, in this case to the human body, the easier it will be for an attacker to kill a person or steal personal data. A cutting-edge digital terrorist will soon cause, for example, pacemakers to stop working and lead to the deaths of people who have them implanted.
The health sector it is especially vulnerable due to the increasing interconnection of medical devices and the use of remote connections for their maintenance; the need to continuously monitor patients; the use of smartphones to access health information by patients and doctors; as well as the inability of the information technology (IT) department to apply patches and the usual lack of budget for cybersecurity services and solutions.
Health risks can go from digital world to physical world very quickly. The benefits of the Internet for society have been, and will continue to be, enormous. Future Internet+ developments will be increasingly transformative. Internet+ affects the world in a direct physical way. As everything is hyperconnected, the risks and dangers become more and more catastrophic.
Technological mishaps can have dire consequences. The authentication mechanisms in digital medical devices they are not sufficiently protected and data encryption techniques for communication and storage are weak or even non-existent. Under these circumstances, it would be possible to gain unauthorized access and tamper with the device without the patient’s knowledge.
The tools we have do not allow us to be prepared for the rapid advance of these technologies. We must build security systems as robust as the threats themselves.
More information in the book ‘hacking code’, by Adrian Moreno