IoT in Healthcare Industry

IoT in Healthcare

The Internet of Thinks (IoT) technologies has immense potential to transform the healthcare industry. With tangible benefits for patients care, improving streamlining operations, and reducing costs. IoT medical devices are facilitating remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, and data-sensitive treatment operations. All of which can significantly enhance the quality and efficiency of healthcare services.

However, despite the benefits that IoT applications in healthcare bring to the sector, there are a plethora of cybersecurity risks related with connected healthcare devices. These risks can compromise patient data privacy, the integrity of medical data, and even the functionality of medical devices themselves.

IoT in Healthcare and Patients’ Care

Most developed countries have transitioned their healthcare systems from a paper-based system to an electronic one. Digital healthcare applications, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), are now internet-connected and being used across all healthcare sectors.

The use of IoT in healthcare brings about numerous benefits for patients’ care. Internet-connected devices enable interoperability and machine-to-machine communication. Facilitating a smoother flow of data and information exchange. 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.

IoT Medical Devices 

IoT medical devices can support patient real-time data monitoring. It involves the use of wireless wearable devices. These IoT devices can provide reminders for various health-related tasks. Encompassing calorie intake, sleep and exercise patterns, and vital signs tracking, including blood pressure and glucose monitoring (World Diabetes Day).

IoT medical devices can also enhance the well-being of elderly patients by monitoring their health conditions. Especially for those living alone. As any deviations or disruptions in their routines trigger alerts to both family members and healthcare providers.

IoT devices also play a vital role for both physicians and hospitals. In the case of physicians, wearables and home monitoring devices integrated with IoT enable efficient tracking of patients’ health. Additionally, IoT facilitates telemedicine, offering clinical services to patients without requiring a face-to-face visit.

In hospitals, IoT devices can be used to track the real-time location of medical equipment, including wheelchairs, defibrillators, nebulizers, and oxygen pumps. This real-time tracking enhances efficiency by providing immediate analysis of medical staff deployment across various locations. Furthermore, IoT devices can also play a crucial role in infection control through hygiene monitoring, mitigating the spread of infections among patients.

Personal Health Information

Despite the benefits that IoT applications in healthcare brings to the 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?).

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 (Healthcare CyberSecurity).

With greater numbers of IoT devices in use, the more entry points are available to attackers (IoT Security). This poses a threat not only in terms of accessing healthcare information with compromised devices but also in potentially spreading throughout an organization’s network. Furthermore, the increased reliance on the supply chain is enhancing the cybersecurity risks associated with IoT, as numerous suppliers are also adopting this technology. Hence, there are an even greater number of entry points to the intended target. Heightening the importance of robust asset risk management in the healthcare sector Asset Risk Management for Healthcare.

Healthcare Data and CyberSecurity

Attackers can conduct a data breach, stealing personal health information (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 devices themselves which can have fatal consequences if successful. This threat to patient safety is a major risk to the healthcare industry (watch: 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 (Hospital Cyber Resiliency Initiative). 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).

IoT in Healthcare: How to Be Cyber Smart?

What measures can both the healthcare industry and consumers take to Be Cyber Smart? The healthcare industry needs to enhance its cybersecurity culture. Through education and training days, staff will need to have increased awareness regarding IoT devices Things (IoMT Security) cybersecurity risks. However, reliance on staff is most definitely not sufficient (Insider Threat).

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 healthcare 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.

For the patient, it would be a good idea to limit the information being provided. When it comes to healthcare this can be challenging. But consider whether the information that you are giving to your doctor is of utmost importance. 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 can, then it might be better to do so.

Connected Healthcare Devices

With the increasing use of IoT devices, organizations are having a difficult time keeping up with what healthcare devices are connected to their infrastructure (Connected Healthcare Devices). This is extremely dangerous from a cybersecurity aspect as it increases the chances of a successful IoT hardware attack.

Again, these measures alone do not suffice, and cybersecurity software that can detect if an attack is occurring should support them. Sepio platform provides enterprises with full visibility to whatever is connected to the infrastructure. Uncovering hidden IoT devices attacks operating over network and USB interfaces (Bad USB).

IoMT Devices Cybersecurity Through Physical Layer Fingerprinting

As the only company in the world to undertake Physical Layer fingerprinting, Sepio’s application identifies, detects and handles all peripherals. No IoT 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 IoT device. Sepio now provides answers to questions such as:

  • Do we have an IoT attack tool or spoofed device in our network?
  • How many IoT devices do we have connected to our network?
  • Who are the top 5 vendors for IoT devices found in our network (invisible network devices)?
  • Where are the most vulnerable switches in our network (unmanaged switch)?

Having visibility across all IT assets provides the organization with a more comprehensive cybersecurity defense.

With so much of our information already online, 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?

See every known and shadow asset. Prioritize and mitigate risks.
Talk to an expert. It will help you understand how to use Sepio’s patented technology to gain control of your asset risks.

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October 19th, 2020