From smart watches that can tell you exactly what your heart rate is, to pacemakers that allow medical staff to monitor them remotely; today’s digital age allows us to live in a world where we have never had more information or control over our health.
Enter: Medical Technology.
It’s probably difficult to find an area of technological development that is as beneficial for society than the MedTech division. In the past decade, medical devices have evolved from clunky and inefficient products to sleek and seamless wearables and implants.
The result of this is the ability for medical professionals to make changes without invasive procedures, the ability to mine deeper insights about chronic illnesses, and to discover patterns which may allow professionals to vastly improve treatment.
Yet, these benefits do not come without its risks. In fact, there are various risks that both manufacturers, regulators and healthcare institutions need to mitigate in order to ensure:
- The devices are safe to use.
- The networks in which they and running on are secure.
- And that the devices themselves are manufactured with security in mind.
While cyberattacks are mostly associated with financial and government institutions, it is not hard to imagine the mass disruption that an attack on the healthcare industries would cause.
The unfortunate thing is, IoT Security is still in its nascent stages. Very few devices have been designed with security in mind, and many have not had independent cybersecurity testing. This has left many of us afraid of what cybersecurity risks may exist in devices. Other fail to even give it a thought until a risk is presented- and this is often too late to revoke the damage.I
n the healthcare industry, cybersecurity is arguably more important than ever. The need to secure a connected medical device is paramount to ensure the safety of a patient and also to protect their personal data and information.
Best practices for MedTech Security
And so, as the world of connected devices becomes ever-more populated, the need to ensure optimum security is paramount.To do this, there are various actions that must be taken.
Security by design
These include baking security into product design from the get-go. Regarding security as a mere after-thought is incredibly risky and will always cost you more.
Test Test Test!
Secondly, tests should be taking place throughout the development process. If all security testing is left until the very end of a project and all goes well-, you’re extremely lucky. On the other hand, if it fails and a significant flaw is uncovered, you may likely have to redesign and even start from scratch- and that’s just a major headache for everyone.And so – whenever possible – devices should be tested early and often for security flaws in order to ensure risk is minimized.
Last year, the FDA launched a cybersecurity playbook for healthcare providers with the aim of promoting cybersecurity safety. The regulator also announced two agreements which will unite multiple stakeholders to encourage transparency and data sharing around cybersecurity risks.This is a hopeful outlook for the MedTech industry, with this playbook assisting healthcare delivery organisations in initiating processes that will help bolster their efforts in device security.
The challenges in the road ahead
While the playbook is a great start on the road to mitigating against cyber attacks in the healthcare industry, this alone will not solve the problem. The guidelines act merely as a guide to inform all those involved. In the healthcare sphere, it is paramount that security by design becomes priority.Developing a connected device in this rapidly evolving technological space can be a tricky task. Securing any device is important in today’s murky waters of cybercrime, but securing a device used for medical purposes is essential.By following the guidelines issued by the FDA, the standards put in place for connected devices, and industry best-practices, manufacturers can take the steps needed to ensure the safety, performance, and security of their devices.