The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform the healthcare sector. From pacemakers to blood pressure cuffs, IoT healthcare can help doctors better manage diseases, monitor patients, and improve treatment outcomes – but healthcare data security is a substantial risk that must be addressed.
The patient data collected and stored via connected healthcare devices is extremely sensitive and valuable to hackers who can use the stolen information for blackmail or medical identity theft. For example, a criminal could use a patient’s data to create a fake ID to buy medical equipment or drugs that can then be resold. Or, they could file fraudulent insurance claims under the patient’s name.
Despite these inherent risks, IoT is rapidly invading the healthcare sector – which means that it is immediately necessary to take aggressive steps to ensure patient safety. Healthcare data security needs to be a primary consideration – rather than an afterthought – or patients and their health will be put at risk.
So, who is responsible for IoT security? For starters, hospitals need to take proactive steps to ensure that their environments are secure. This could look like isolating the network using VLAs and deploying intrusion detection. It might also involve educating both patients and staff about the risks associated with these devices. In addition, hospitals need to be extremely discerning when purchasing “things” for healthcare. More specifically, any devices that hospitals adopt need to:
- Store and transmit data securely
- Accept software security updates
- Feature APIs that ensure a secure connection
As important as these steps are, hospitals alone can’t solve the problem of IoT security. Device manufacturers also have to play an active role. They need to develop solutions that adhere to strict security standards, and they should be offering certified devices.
Enhanced device security can be accomplished by operating with a horizontal management platform, which can help manufacturers ensure the security of their equipment on an ongoing basis. In addition to making it easy for manufacturers to quickly send out security updates, this kind of platform makes end-to-end security possible, ensuring that sensitive data remains secure from its point of origin to its final destination.
Although connected healthcare is associated with considerable IoT security risks, they can be mitigated if hospitals and device manufacturers take the appropriate precautions. By making security a priority, rather than an afterthought, the healthcare sector can reap the benefits of the Internet of Things, while still ensuring patient safety.