Medical-device security isn't tracked well, research shows
"We believe the inconsistency between databases is due to lack of a meaningful and convenient reporting mechanism, but we also believe that clinicians without expertise in computer security are unlikely to recognize the difference between a virus infection and a crashed or slow computer," the study points out. "Time pressure, lack of incentives, lack of federal safe harbor policies, and lack of clear actionable guidance further reduce the probability of incident reporting by clinicians and information technology staff."
Fu said he he's been in contact with professionals at clinics and hospitals where individuals are "essentially afraid of reporting issues on paper for liability issues." He notes the U.S. may want to consider looking at the kinds of "safe harbor" laws that have helped other industries, such as aviation, in identifying safety issues.
The MAUDE database showed no events related to privacy and security, in spite of about 1,000 possible product problems, the study said. As if to test MAUDE's effectiveness, one of the study's co-authors submitted a software vulnerability report for an automated external defibrillator on July 19, 2011, and found by Jan. 19, 2012, the report had not yet been processed into MAUDE. By April of this year, MAUDE did finally contain the submitted report.
"The report processing took nine months. As the time from discovery of a conventional computer security vulnerability to the global exploitation of the flaw is often measured in hours, a nine-month processing delay may not be an effective strategy for ensuring the safety of software-related medical devices," the study says.
The study says there has not yet been any major known and sustained vicious attack on medical devices intended to harm patients in the U.S. But there have been many instances of malware infecting PCs used to operate medical equipment, sometimes even turning medical devices into botnets that are often used by remote command-and-control operators for things such as spam relays. Vendors of the equipment are getting blamed.
"Common causes of infections include use of the Internet and USB flash memory drives from vendors who are paradoxically updating software on medical devices," the study notes. "In one instance, a factory-installed device arrived already infected by malware. All detected malware pertained to conventional compute viruses rather than malware customized for medical devices. The most prevalent malware converted the medical devices into becoming nodes of 'botnet' criminal networks. Organized crime rents out botnets for others to distribute spam anonymously and for mounting targeted attacks on information infrastructure."
In contrast to the lack of consistency and clarity the researchers found in the three databases, one other database they looked at showed how serious malware infections can be in hospitals.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
While it may seem a contradiction in terms, digital automation tools may make possible a new level of personalization in medical care.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Healthcare Firm Ramps Up for Claims Processing Spikes
- Huge increases in claims processing loads and stringent SLAs for Medicaid patients prompted Molina Healthcare to enhance their IT infrastructure with VCE.
- Patient Portals: A Platform for Connecting Communities of Care
- Connecting patient health data across the care continuum is essential to achieve improved care, increased access to personal health records and lowered costs.
- 3 Ways Clinicians Can Leverage a Patient Portal to Craft a Healthcare Community
- With a bevy of vendors offering patient portal solutions, it can be challenging for a hospital to know where to start. Fortunately, YourCareCommunity...
- Is Your Big Data Solution Production-Ready?
- Read "Is Your Big Data Solution Production-Ready?" now, and discover best practices and actionable steps to implementing a production-ready big data solution.
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions... All Healthcare IT White Papers
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- All Healthcare IT Webcasts