5 Tips for Cybersecurity Management for Cloud Connected Medical Devices

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will revolutionize the way healthcare providers deliver care to their patients. Medical devices equipped with online connectivity enable providers to monitor patients remotely. They automatically record relevant health data, creating a real-time, holistic picture of an individual’s health. 

In spite of all the benefits, cloud-based medical devices are highly exposed to security risks. Cyberattacks are increasingly common threats in the healthcare industry, doubling in 2020 alone. When they succeed, these cyberattacks jeopardize both sensitive patient data as well as critical life-sustaining technologies like pacemakers and ventilators.  

Taking the right cybersecurity measures can mitigate the risk of security breach and contain the damage. Cyber security for cloud connected medical devices can prevent many of these attacks and contain the damage when a breach does occur. 

For the prevention of cybersecurity incidents, it is important to recognize the complexity of the operational environment as well as to catalog the technical vulnerabilities and to address each of them.

5 Tips to Tackle Medical Device Cybersecurity 

If you currently use connected medical devices or plan to, here are 5 tips that will help you manage your medical device cybersecurity obligations:

1. Follow FDA Cybersecurity Guidelines at All Layers of The Stack

To properly function, cloud-connected medical devices rely on a complex ecosystem of servers, databases, and networks. This assortment of interconnected systems is called the ‘stack.’ Vulnerabilities may be present in any of its layers.  

The FDA publishes guidelines defining what is expected in terms of software medical device cyber security. These recommended practices offer world-class guidance that includes defensive measures against existing and emerging threats on every layer of the stack. Implementing them can

  • Identify and respond to cybersecurity threats
  • Keep sensitive data confidential in both storage and transit
  • Maintain the integrity of their code and data
  • Prevent unauthorized use of the system

2. Control Access to Protected Health Information 

Protected Health Information (PHI) is a protected class of data that falls under HIPAA’s Privacy Rule. PHI includes any individually identifiable information that relates to: 

  • An individual’s past or present health condition
  • Any past, present, or future medical treatment that an individual receives
  • Any past, present, or future payments made for the provision of medical care by or on behalf of that individual

Stringent HIPAA expectations for PHI protection are one of the reasons why connected medical device security standards are so high. Million-dollar fines and even jail time have been ordered for violations of this key data privacy law.  

To ensure your patients’ connected medical device data remains protected, it must be locked behind strict identity-based and role-based access controls. Only individuals with HIPAA security training and a proven need for access should be authorized to retrieve or modify health data pulled from connected devices. Each of these individuals must use a unique username and a strong password that is regularly changed. This helps facilitate threat-tracing in case of a data breach. 

3. Implement Cloud Security Engineering Best Practices 

Cloud-based software has been used for over 20 years. During that time, cybersecurity experts have developed a set of best practices to follow which safeguard the unique vulnerabilities of this type of system. Some of the most important cloud security practices to consider when implementing security for cloud-connected medical devices include: 

  • Choose a connected medical device platform with an alert system to obtain advance warning of any suspicious events that occur on your network
  • Conduct regular backups of all data derived from connected health devices
  • Implement encryption during all device data transfers
  • Perform regular software updates when prompted by your vendor
  • Track how your cloud-based device platform is being used

4. Conduct Regular Security Audits 

Cybersecurity for medical devices is not a one-time concern. If you don’t hold regular audits, your cloud security measures are bound to fail eventually. Healthcare providers using connected medical devices should audit their cybersecurity every few months. 

As cloud computing relies on third-party solutions by design, the auditing process for this type of software differs significantly from a typical internal IT audit. Instead of testing the integrity of most security measures yourself, a thorough audit for a cloud-based system will involve confirming the status of those measures with your software provider. Your IT staff should be able to ask your provider what is being done to uphold the security of your data and network, including what kind of data is stored on cloud servers and what’s being used to protect it. 

The internal portion of your audit should address considerations such as HIPAA compliance, user authentication practices, and risk assessment procedures. Change management should be a particular area of focus during this process. New vulnerabilities are most likely to emerge in the wake of patches, updates, and other modifications made to your medical device software’s code.  

5. Create Disaster Recovery Scenarios 

Even with the strongest cybersecurity safeguards in place, successful cyberattacks are always possible. Healthcare providers must plan for the worst-case scenario.

Create detailed processes that outline what you will do if there’s a data breach in your medical device network. This plan should cover key considerations:

  • How and when to access backup data
  • How system analytics will be used to discover the point of failure
  • Which procedures will be used to identify and remove any malware

When the functionality of a medical device is compromised by a cyberattack, it is also necessary to inform key stakeholders of the incident. Local hospitals or the Regional Department of Health may be able to assist you in providing interim care while you work to resolve the situation.

BioT Delivers Top-Rated Cybersecurity for Software Medical Devices 

Security for cloud-connected medical devices is a matter of utmost importance. Choosing the right medical device platform can significantly improve your ability to guard your network from the ever-changing landscape of digital threats. 

BioT uses the latest measures to shield your medical device network from cyberattacks, malware, and other digital security issues. Our platform is fully compliant with all FDA guidelines and HIPAA requirements.

We regularly perform extensive security testing on our software to discover and patch possible exploits before attackers can use them to access your network and systems. With automated alerts and periodic backups to provide additional protection, your connected medical devices and their data will be safe. 

Contact us to learn more about our cloud-connected medical device platform, its features, and our commitment to keeping our medical IoT software safe from cyberthreats.

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