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Healthcare industry warned to secure IoT devices

Intel Security and the Atlantic Council report names data protection as the number one priority.

By Joao Lima

Technology developers have today been urged to step up security measures when developing healthcare IoT smart appliances, in order to fully realise the benefits from the industry.

The report, published today by Intel Security and the Atlantic Council, said that security needs to be a priority right from the start to ensure patients’ safety.

‘The Healthcare Internet of Things: Rewards and Risks’ report revealed that the decline in the need for hospital equipment, resulting from IoT, could prompt savings of £42 billion in healthcare costs over the next 15 years.

As devices become ever more intelligent and start taking care of their owners, other risks will arise. The theft of personal information, intentional tampering with devices to cause harm, widespread disruption, and accidental failures will increasingly became cause for concern.

In 2013, medical companies were one of the most targeted, with 44% of all data breaches in that year directly affecting the healthcare system, an Identity Theft Resource Centre report exposed.

PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey 2015 also revealed that from 2013 to 2014 financial losses in the sector soared 282%. The number of information security breaches reported by healthcare payers and providers rose by 60% in the same period.

Intel Security and the Atlantic Council advised the healthcare industry to integrate security into devices and machines at the developer stage.

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The two companies also urged governments to establish a set of security standards or best practises involving medical devices to address underlying risks.

The study called for a balance between effectiveness, usability, and security when the machine is implemented and used by consumers. This would require an independent voice from the public to ensure patients and their families have a voice.

Raj Samani, VP, EMEA chief technology officer at Intel Security, said: "Whilst IoT and networked healthcare are already improving quality of life for millions, this widespread technology uptake makes the sector a bigger target to those looking to exploit it.

"With the value and volume of attacks of stolen healthcare data on the black market increasing, technology developers and policy makers need to work more closely with the security sector to better secure patients’ personal and sensitive data, and prevent opening another door to cybercrime."

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