Cyber-attacks: How to protect your medical devices

Target, Neiman Marcus, Facebook, Microsoft and many more of the biggest companies in the world have fallen victim to hackers and cyber criminals. But is the comparatively smaller medical device industry too tiny to fall victim to cyber criminals? Hardly.

The security in obscurity mentality is not an effective shield. As cyber criminals expand their reach and target new potential victims, it is only a matter of time before they see the value of the medical device industry. So what can industry professionals do to protect themselves and their companies from cyber crime and hackers?

Many traditional security mechanisms that would work in other industries will not work for medical device companies because of a lack of additional processing resources. The industry is also too specialized to rely on standard PC security options.

Medical device companies are not without options, of course. Standard IT security practices such as authentication or encryption software, firewalls, security protocols and intrusion prevention or detection systems can all be helpful in staving off cyber criminals. Bump-in-the-wire options can also provide an effective way to upgrade existing security systems while ensuring platform independence. This solution also requires no new special software or hardware and configuration/maintenance is minimal.

The industry also has the unique opportunity to build security into the devices themselves. Building protection into the device itself means it is no longer solely dependent on the corporate firewall for its security. However, the security initiatives companies invest in must protect the firmware at all costs, and most also allow for the securing of stored data and communications both into and out of the device. Following these steps and building security measures into the company as a whole, as well as the individual devices, will help protect the medical device industry from the next wave of cyber-attacks.

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