IoT in Healthcare play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry. Facilitating some of the most critical, complex, and data-sensitive operations among all business sectors. The healthcare ecosystem is vast and intricate, encompassing hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, patients, health insurance, and a plethora of cutting-edge IoT healthcare devices and technologies. This diversity underscores the expansive nature of the information handled within the healthcare industry. And the unique challenges it poses due to its critical and sensitive nature.
Today, most developed countries are transitioning their healthcare system from that of a paper-based system to an electronic one. Thus, the healthcare industry is more heavily relying on technology, especially Internet of Things (IoT in Healthcare) devices.
Much of the apparatus being used in hospitals is now internet-connected, and a considerable amount is vital to patients’ well-being. Such as remote patient monitoring, glucose monitoring, heart-rate monitoring, depression and mood monitoring, among others (U.S. FDA). Other aspects of the healthcare industry also rely on IoT devices to advance the overall performance of the sector. The integration of IoT in Healthcare includes patient records, laboratory results, radiology equipment, among others. Hence, data integration, patient engagement, and clinical support are all facilitated by this electronic shift.
Advantages of IoT in Healthcare
As mentioned, the use of IoT in healthcare brings about numerous benefits. Notably, IoT improves operational efficiency across a range of domains. Crucially, these devices enable interoperability and machine-to-machine communication. Thus facilitating a smoother flow of information exchange and data movement. This allows for the automation of patient care workflows, freeing up human efforts and capabilities for more effective use elsewhere. Furthermore, the capabilities of IoT in healthcare reduces human errors and eliminates many decision-making delays.
Crucially, IoT in Healthcare can speed up crisis responses. With real-time monitoring, the diagnosis process is much swifter. And this can help make well-versed decisions and provide on-time treatment which is vital in critical situations. Of which many healthcare related incidents are.
For the patient, IoT in healthcare undoubtedly improve the experience and care being received. By enhancing telemedicine – the use of electronic communications to provide clinical services to the patient without a face-to-face visit – IoT brings numerous advantages to the consumer. Importantly, there is less time away from work since the service can be conducted anywhere. For those with child-care responsibilities, telemedicine greatly reduces the interruptions that traditional clinical services can bring.
Moreover, telemedicine allows consumers to avoid coming into contact with potentially contagious patients at the healthcare facility. Telemedicine reduces the number of missed and canceled appointments, allowing patients to experience fewer delays typically associated with doctor’s appointments. We all know the feeling of sitting in the waiting room at least thirty minutes after the scheduled appointment, still unattended to.
IoT in healthcare also feeds into the modern societal need for instantaneous actions. With almost everything accessible immediately, IoT in healthcare can accommodate this in the medical field by providing real-time information not only to the physicians, but also to the patient.
IoT in Healthcare is Challenging
However, despite the benefits that IoT in healthcare seemingly brings to the healthcare sector, there are a plethora of healthcare cybersecurity challenges. Since healthcare providers perform the most crucial and elaborate operations, there is a need for highly sensitive data to be accessed. Especially personal health information (what is PHI?). In 2017, around 30% of US healthcare providers were using IoT for sensitive data and this number is only increasing. Personal health information (PHI) is extremely attractive to attackers since it can sell for almost 300x the amount of personally identifiable information (PII), thus making the healthcare industry the number one target (IoT Use Cases in Healthcare).
With greater numbers of IoT devices in use, the more entry points for an attack. Either to obtain the information on the infiltrated device, or to move laterally throughout the organization once connected to the network simply by targeting just one device. Furthermore, the increased reliance on the supply chain within the healthcare industry is only enhancing the risk to cybersecurity vis-à-vis IoT since many suppliers will likely also use this technology. Hence, there are an even greater number of entry points to the intended target. Ultimately increasing the need for adequate Asset Risk Management for Healthcare.
Why Security Matters for IoT in Healthcare
Attackers can conduct a data breach, stealing PHI and selling it on the dark web. Alternatively, they may use the stolen information to create fake IDs for purchasing drugs and medical equipment, both of which they can then sell. This is the greatest concern for around 40% of healthcare providers. For those who are more malicious, they might attempt to control the IoT in healthcare devices themselves which can have fatal consequences if successful. This threat to patient safety is a major risk to the healthcare industry (see Sepio video: Ransomware in Healthcare – Evil Patient).
The use of IoT in healthcare sector is seriously dangerous since healthcare cybersecurity is often viewed as a hindrance to operations. With patient care at the forefront of concerns, cybersecurity measures often slow down productivity. And in an industry that so often conducts time-sensitive operations, every second is vital. As such, by focusing on patient care, cybersecurity investments are forgone. With this as the industry culture, it is therefore understandable why employees have such a lack of awareness surrounding cyber risks and the various actions they can take to enhance cybersecurity. Hence, the healthcare industry is highly vulnerable when utilizing IoT devices (Human Factors in Cybersecurity).
How to #BeCyberSmart
What measures can both the industry and consumers take in order to #BeCyberSmart? Importantly, the industry as a whole needs to enhance its cybersecurity culture, especially when it comes to IoT in Healthcare security. Through education and training days, staff will need to have increased awareness regarding IoT security vulnerabilities and risks. However, reliance on staff is most definitely not sufficient.
Other measures that should be implemented include enhanced authentication such as multi-factor and/or biometric sensors authentication to reduce the chances of a bad actor gaining access to sensitive data. Furthermore, the principle of least privilege will greatly benefit the cybersecurity posture of the industry. By only being able to access the necessary information required to conduct an activity, there will be fewer individuals who have access to highly sensitive data. Again, these measures alone do not suffice, and cybersecurity software that can detect if an attack is occurring should support them. Regularly conduct security audits to ensure the effectiveness of such software.
IoT Risks in Healthcare and Securing Connected Devices
For the patient, it would be a good idea to limit the information being provided. Of course, when it comes to healthcare this can be challenging, but really consider whether the information that you are giving to your doctor is of utmost importance, especially when using IoT in healthcare. Furthermore, avoid using healthcare services that rely on IoT devices if possible. When contemplating if you should engage in telemedicine services, ponder whether it really is such an inconvenience to visit your doctor face-to-face. If you are able to, then it might be better to do so.
Ultimately, with the increasing use of IoT devices, organizations are having a difficult time keeping up with what healthcare devices are connected to their infrastructure (Exploiting Connected Healthcare Devices). This is extremely dangerous from a cybersecurity aspect as it increases the chances of a successful IoT hardware attack. Sepio Solutions provides enterprises with full visibility to whatever is connected to the infrastructure. Uncovering hidden IoT hardware attacks operating over network and USB interfaces (Bad USB).
Cybersecurity through Physical Layer Fingerprinting
As the only company in the world to undertake Physical Layer fingerprinting, Sepio’s solution identifies, detects and handles all peripherals. No device goes unmanaged. This total visibility enables us to achieve a stronger cybersecurity posture. We no longer need to depend on manual reporting, legacy inventory reports, and employee compliance to determine if a malicious actor has installed a vulnerable device. Sepio now provides answers to questions such as:
- Do we have an implant or spoofed device in our network?
- How many IoT devices do we have?
- Who are the top 5 vendors for devices found in our network?
- Where are the most vulnerable switches in our network?
Having visibility across all IT assets provides the organization with a more comprehensive cybersecurity defense.
With so much of our information already online that we willingly put out there, attackers can easily determine where we like to hang out. Or what we like to eat, what music we like to listen to, and do damage with this information. Do we really need them to know what we aren’t advertising to our social media followers?