FDA WORRIES MEDICAL DEVICES COULD BE HACKED!

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The FDA is starting to push to get medical equipment encrypted. They worry that people will insert malicious code or cause the devices to hurt patients in other ways. While there has been no known instances, devices are becoming more connected or complex. The FDA has even started having meetings with manufacturers and people in the medical profession.

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What the FDA worries about

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Here, via USA Today, is the concerns of the FDA.

While the FDA hasn’t had any reports of specific medical devices being targeted by those wanting to do harm, concern over what could happen has been building for some time, because medical devices are increasingly connected to computer networks.

“Many devices are poorly secured and do not require a lot to hack. If there is sufficient incentive to do so, it will happen, causing harm to patients,” said Shel Sharma, director of product marketing for Cyphort, a threat-detection company.

There are many ways a medical device could be subverted. It used to be that medical devices were stand-alone and relatively untouchable machines, unless someone with intent on harm was in the room with them.

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“When it’s specialized equipment, especially when it’s not connected to the Internet, how do you hack that?” Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer of app security company Veracode.

Speaking at a round-table discussion on medical device security at this fall’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, he described one company that used to make anesthesia carts that were all “fiddly dials and knobs interface,” with no Internet access.

The company has now moved to an iPad interface that allows wireless access. “Now the hackers can manipulate those devices,” he said.

That’s what the FDA is hoping to avoid, by pushing medical device makers to think about possible problems and their solutions before going to market.

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At a minimum, medical devices should require secure authentication for access, use encrypted communication and make sure that security patches are always added.

That will require device manufacturers “to change their mindset and build security from the ground up in the devices,” said Sharma.

Terrorists and criminals are always looking for new ways to cause harm. With medical devices becoming more computerized, these threats become more possible.

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