Though cybercriminals haven’t yet started hacking pacemakers for kicks, the U.S. Veteran Affairs Department (VA) has launched a new project to ensure connected medical devices are protected.
As reported by NextGov.com, VA has begun fact-finding information on methods to safeguard wirelessly connected medical equipment from malicious cyber attacks.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly used in health applications, more and more connected devices are being employed by health centers and hospitals for patient monitoring and diagnosis.
VA is concerned that the wireless nature of the connectivity allows these devices to be vulnerable to nefarious actors. And so the department is undertaking a “comprehensive, defense-in-depth” initiative that seeks to secure IoT equipment on hospital networks from any malicious attacks.
VA’s interest in bolstering IoT security follows a recent attack on the MedStar Health network in Washington, D.C. which saw its patient records blocked by ransomware.
As more devices become integrated into healthcare facilities, concerns for hospital network security are increasing in tandem. This concern was behind VA’s new cybersecurity strategy launched last fall that focused on securing medical devices and general medical cybersecurity.
VA has set guidelines for the IoT security needs
According to the NextGov report, VA’s requirement for medical IoT security include: automation; scalability to millions of devices; consideration for device time lags; and the capacity to generate reports on protocols, threat indicators and device traffic volume.
And this data integrity issue is one that will grow ever thornier as medical wearables and implantables become more commonplace.
ReadWrite recently wrote that RFID chips, for example, could replace medical alerts bracelets and avoid drug interactions caused by mis-prescribing drugs but “a number of people have told me that the ease of removing an RFID chip (with a scalpel presumably) could result in identity or financial theft. Others raise the issues of hacking and long-term medical complications caused by implants. But regardless of resistance, this technology is here, it is being used successfully for a range of purposes and it will be an integral part of wearables of the future.”