Department of Homeland Security reissues cyber warning on medical devices

New research prompted the Department of Homeland Security to resend a warning on cybersecurity vulnerabilities in electronic medical devices, according to the Digital Journal.

In the alert, the department cautioned hospitals and health clinics  using electronic medical devices, including surgical and anesthesia devices, ventilators, drug infusion pumps and external defibrillators. Patient monitors, laboratory and analysis equipment and other digital systems are also vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Researchers found many electronic medical devices are designed with "hard-coded" passwords, giving hackers an opening to modify settings or install rogue firmware.

The FDA has expressed similar concerns.

Large technology companies, including GE Healthcare, Philips and Silex Technologies received the warnings. Silex Technologies makes wireless electrocardiogram products, and certain Philips computer tomography systems may be susceptible to cyberattacks.

Solutions for these potential vulnerabilities should not solely rely on device manufacturers, according to May Wang, PhD, co-founder and chief technology officer of Zingbox, an internet of things security company for medical devices.

"Security leaders can do more to collaborate with DHS and other agencies, such as HHS and NIST, who have focused their efforts to secure these critical medical devices," Dr. Wang told the Digital Journal.

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