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How Cybersecurity is Becoming More Important In The Medical Device Industry

Cybersecurity in the medical device world has evolved from a footnote to a front-page headline. 

Where medical devices were by-and-large standalone systems in the past, today’s medical devices regularly communicate with other hospital/clinical systems, PCs, and mobile devices. This inter-connectivity presents new threats, vulnerabilities, and challenges for medical device manufacturers. 

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Although regulatory bodies such as the FDA and the European Competent Authorities have introduced increasingly strict guidelines and regulations concerning cybersecurity, these guidelines are not enough to ensure patient safety. 

Common Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

There are a few common areas of vulnerability that one must always consider when designing medical devices. The first fundamental aspect of designing a secure system is communication authentication. 

A number of high-profile breaches in the past several years have made it clear that usernames and passwords do not provide sufficient security against malicious attacks. Credential leaks have been publicly posted for everything from Myspace to Bitcoin to NSA.gov email addresses in recent years. 

Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg had his social media accounts hacked due to a weak password in 2016.

Medical devices are not immune to this trend. The second line of defense known as “two-factor authentication” can be used to help mitigate threats associated with weak passwords and may include hardware authentication and biometric scanners. 

Protecting against unauthorized access and verifying the authenticity of content is a critical part of designing a secure medical device and ensuring patient safety.