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New Front in Cyberwar: Hospitals?


A number of medical devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks that could render them ineffective or worse, according to recent studies. Now regulations are underway that would require manufacturers to build cybersecurity features into their devices before recieving FDA approval. The Washington Post reports:

Computer viruses and other malware increasingly are infecting equipment such as hospital computers used to view X-rays and CT scans and devices in cardiac catheterization labs, agency officials said. The problems cause the equipment to slow down or shut off, complicating patient care. As more devices operate on computer systems that are connected to each other, a hospital network and the Internet, the potential for problems rises dramatically, they said.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen an uptick that has increased our concern,” said William H. Maisel, chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The type and breadth of incidents has increased.” He said officials used to hear about problems only once or twice a year, but “now we’re hearing about them weekly or monthly.”

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a startling increase in the number of damaging cyber attacks on high-profile targets. Attacks on the heath care system have been relatively rare so far, but that’s not necessarily because it is adequately defended.

Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important to the key facets of the nation’s defense, and none to soon. As more work in the 21st century service economy relies on technology, much of our basic infrastructure will be susceptible to sabotage and espionage. Health care isn’t the only industry that needs to start implementing safeguards now.

[Hacking photo courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Fat_Man

    Why worry about hackers when our biggest source of trouble is in Washington DC?

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