There is no denying that there is an increase in the integration of tech into healthcare. According to a report, the Internet of Medical Devices is predicted to be worth $543 Billion.
Hence, it is high time for healthcare companies and organizations to focus on data security and ensure that the best medical device security practices are followed sincerely.
Security weaknesses and data breaches can put patients’ data at risk and healthcare organizations in front of ransom attacks which can lead to loss of data as well as life. This is why the PATCH Act was introduced in 2022 to improve US healthcare infrastructure. This encourages device makers to follow some practices that make the device less prone to cyberattacks.
So the question is, what are some of the common medical device security practices that healthcare companies should follow?
Why is Medical Device Security Important?
Medical Devices like Drug Infusion Pumps, Wearables, MRI devices, and medical records are found to have many vulnerabilities.
Using these devices, hackers can steal the personal data of a user, steal a hospital’s data, and stop hospital operations apart from many other things.
To make sure this does not happen, medical devices should have some layers of encryption, compliance with government regulations, FDA Approval, firewalls, etc to make sure the data can not be breached by others.
They should also follow certain practices to increase medical device security. Here are 5 practices:
5 Medical Device Security Best Practices
1. Understand The Risk
Before you go and implement a security procedure in the healthcare system, it is important to understand the risk and find devices and security loopholes that hackers can exploit.
To do this, a healthcare organization must start by identifying all the potential vulnerabilities in the medical devices, make a list of the devices that need to be protected, and make an assessment of what sort of devices can be hacked or get affected in a security breach.
By understanding these risks, a healthcare organization can prioritize its security procedure and address the most critical issues first.
This will also help the organization to understand how much of the budget is required for the whole security procedure implementation, the duration of it, and what sort of IT help they are going to need.
2. Device Authentication and Authorization
Another important part of medical device security is device authentication and authorization. A good practice is to assign a unique identifier for all the medical devices connected to the network.
This way, only authenticated devices can connect and communicate with the network, and no third-party devices can get into the network and exploit any device or the network itself.
To secure the whole system further, all the medical devices should have role-based access controls. This way, only designated roles can access the necessary data needed for their job, and not every data is available on the system.
This way, even if a hacker gets into the system, they can only access some level of data, preventing the healthcare organization from exposing all of their data.
It is also advised that medical devices should not be on the same network as IT devices. By keeping the network separated for both jobs, an organization can control the damage of the overall hack. So even if the hacker gets access to one part of the network, the other one will still be safe.
3. Regular Software Updates
Outdated software is the primary target for most of the hacks. As a result, it is important to keep your medical devices up to date with available software updates, security updates, or firmware updates.
In case you are using custom-made software to manage healthcare system devices – you may get help from certified software developers who specialize in HIPAA compliance app development, to make sure that the software gets timely updates and is not vulnerable to secure patients’ personal information.
4. Create Logging & Monitoring Controls
You should also have a proper logging and monitoring system in place. Since no matter how high of a security system you build, there is no guarantee that it will not get breached.
However, with proper logging and monitoring controls, one can easily detect any suspicious activity and take proper action before it is too late.
5. Equipment Maintenance/Upgrades
Last but not least, medical devices should get proper maintenance from time to time. In the majority of cases, medical device maintenance is restricted to the medical device vendor. So check if they are offering any yearly maintenance services or not. If they are, then taking the service will help you secure your devices further.
If not, make sure to talk to someone who can help you with regular maintenance to keep the medical devices secure.
These are some of the common medical device security best practices that a healthcare organization must follow.
There are many more practices one could follow to keep the medical devices secure, but if starting, they should start with these 5.
Ann Krutsko, Healthcare IT Researcher
With an eye for innovation, Ann applies her strategic thinking and deep understanding of the healthcare industry to create a solid strategy for ScienceSoft’s growth in the medical IT domain. Ann focuses her research on the needs of healthcare providers, medical device manufacturers, software startups, pharmaceutical companies, and other major market players to help tackle their challenges with technology.