How secure ARE lifesaving medical devices?

Dell HeathcareAs you might have noticed already, our life expectancy is growing, and it’s growing fast. Improved medical care and better studies to cure diseases have led to extended life expectancies of our community. Experts predict that when life expectancy grows by three years, as a result hospitals medical costs will increase with 50%.

Home health care on the other hand is usually less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as professional care patients receive in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Sleep disorder solutions, respiratory therapy, remote cardiac services, lifeline and drug delivery are some examples of extending or transition care from the hospital to your home. As with all other technologies, information is the keyword here. Data about your vital signs and health status is gathered, processed and send for examination. These home healthcare medical processing devices are in most cases connected wireless to enhance mobility of the patient.

Last year Jay Radcliffe, a 34-year-old computer network security expert discovered that a best-selling insulin pump used by fellow diabetics is vulnerable to hacking. Tinkering with his own insulin pump, Radcliffe noticed that its wireless connection had a security leak that would allow an attacker to manipulate the amount of insulin provided to the patient, potentially inducing a fatal reaction. A potential hacker would have to be within 60 meters of the device to gain access and be able to tamper with it.

Two weeks after Radcliffe’s announcement at the Black Hat security conference, the Government Accountability Office was asked to investigate the security precautions of wireless health-care devices. The afore mentioned agency is scheduled to publish its report in July.

Dell Heathcare 2The insulin pump manufacturer (who shall be nameless) hired McAfee to scan their devices for security leaks. McAfee confirmed the security leak that was discovered by Radcliffe and successfully hacked into a pump just using a PC and an antenna from 100 meters. The good news; With help from McAfee the manufacturer managed to solve the security leak.  Dell OEM  also offers a wide range of  services  that can assist Home Healthcare manufactures in solving security issues, from engineering services to testing and validation services.

Although there are no reports of a cyber-attack against insulin pumps or other home healthcare devices, manufacturers have become very aware of potential risks and have put processes in place, test against and solve security leaks before products hit the market, now and in the future . It’s one thing to hack into a website, it’s something else to take a life.

If you are interested in learning more about security protection & risks associated with your OEM solutions, contact Dell OEM.

About the Author: Jeffrey Volkert