Tags: Cybersecurity | Health Topics | Healthcare Reform | fda | mban mics | mnn | rfid

Protect Elderly, Medically Compromised From Cyber Threats

fda administrator scott gottlieb md testifies before congress
FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb, M.D. testifying before Congree\ss. (Getty Images)

By Saturday, 27 October 2018 07:56 AM Current | Bio | Archive

According to the Center for Devices and Radiological Health within the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a medical device is "an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar article that is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease."

An important detail left out in that otherwise comprehensive definition is the method in which the diagnoses being made on many medical devices are traveling to physicians. With much easier doctor/patient communication now being facilitated via the patient’s home Wifi connection, the possibility for terrorists to infiltrate a medical device user’s home internet connection with potentially fatal results has never been greater.

We’ve already seen what the results of a widespread terror attack against a country’s medical services industry can look like. Although many people focused on the financial aspect of last year’s global WannaCry ransomware attack, which according to Reuters from July of 2017 cost victims over $8 billion, the havoc it wreaked on the UK’s Hospitals may have had an even greater affect in terms of potential loss of life or acceleration of illness.

According to the UK’s National Health Service, the attack cost the UK’s socialized hospital system over 92,000,000 pounds.

So, what have bureaucrats and legislators come up with in response to the possibility of a new theater for terrorist executed warfare?

An official statement released by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD in early October declared, "Cybersecurity researchers, often referred to as 'white hat hackers' have identified device vulnerabilities in non-clinical, research-based settings. They’ve shown how bad actors could gain the capability to exploit these same weaknesses, thereby acquiring access and control of medical devices."

Also, recently released was a "Medical Device Cybersecurity Regional Incident Preparedness and Response Playbook." The playbook was prepared by The MITRE Corporation under contract with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to a publicly available .pdf, "The purpose of the playbook is to serve as a tool for regional readiness and response activities to aid Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) in addressing cybersecurity threats affecting medical devices that could impact continuity of clinical operations for patient care and patient safety."

The security of patient monitoring devices, especially those connected to vital organs, is key. Log files capturing device operating and/or diagnostic information can potentially be compromised and infected, leading to a diminished capability to interpret error codes or the vital information relayed to either doctors, or device servicers that record any patient abnormalities as applicable.

Imagine a patient’s heart monitor is infected with a script sending normal readings when in reality, the patient is suffering a cardiovascular event. The inaccurate reading of vital signs (body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate,, and respiratory rate) or measurements of heart activity, can cause the delay of life saving medical attention.

This may have devastating results for patients using wireless enabled devices, including RF wireless technology such as Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS), Medical Device Radiocommunication Service (MedRadio), Medical Implant Communications Service (MICS), Medical Micropower Network (MNN), Medical Body Area Network (MBAN), Cellular Communication Chipsets (CCC) and RF identification (RFID) products.

This also says nothing of the potential threats associated with other monitoring devices not classified as being medical. Popular services including the well-known Life Alert, Bay Alarm Medical, Life Station, Medical Guardian, and Phillips Lifeline can all potentially be compromised via the devices WiFi connection, disrupting communications between monitoring stations, local authorities, and the end user.

Some of the most vulnerable amongst us can fall victim to this insidious new cyber threat. The onus is on the FDA and U.S. cybersecurity agencies to stay ahead of the potential new dangers that are only limited to the imagination of America’s enemies.

Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Some of the most vulnerable among us can fall victim to this insidious new cyber threat. The onus is on the FDA and U.S. cybersecurity agencies to stay ahead of the potential new dangers that are only limited to the imagination of America’s enemies
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Saturday, 27 October 2018 07:56 AM
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