MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Although no wearable medical device hacks have yet been reported outside of a research setting, security experts warned that medical devices in hospitals have not been so lucky.
Medical machines such as patient monitors and respiratory machines may be at risk due to software vulnerabilities that device makers aren’t prepared to update, panelists at the National Institute of Standards & Technology Information Security & Privacy Advisory Board meeting said this week.
"Conventional malware is rampant in hospitals because of medical devices using un-patched operating systems," said Kevin Fu, medical device software security expert and among the 1st to demonstrate that medical devices are vulnerable to software attacks. "There’s little recourse for hospitals when a manufacturer refuses to allow OS updates or security patches."
The problem lies partly with Windows-based operating systems that device makers often refuse to update, sometimes out of concerns that the FDA may take issue with the changes, MIT’s Technology Review reported.
That leaves network-connected medical devices vulnerable to hi-jacking by bot-nets or other malware that may slow the machines down or take them off-line. At Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 1 or 2 devices are taken down each week for cleaning, chief information security officer Mark Olson told meeting attendees.
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