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Why medical devices pose security nightmare?

Cyber security experts suggest that heightened protection for medical devices is needed more than ever.

With life-changing advances in medical equipment, researchers say that increasing risks posed by cyber-attacks can put patients in danger. A recent study in conjunction with Israel’s Cybertech conference, researchers at Ben-Gurion University demonstrate how easy it is to exploit medical imaging devices (MIDs).


“The MID development process, from concept to market, takes three to seven years. Cyber threats can change significantly over that period, which leaves medical imaging devices highly vulnerable,” said Tom Mahler, lead author and researcher at BGU’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and the Malware Lab at the BGU Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC).


As imaging devices are becoming more connected to hospital networks, they are more vulnerable to sophisticated cyber-attacks. These attacks can target a device’s infrastructure and components and fatally harm the patient, researchers say.


The BGU cyber security experts predict that as attackers develop more sophisticated skills directed in the devices and software installed, the more it increases the possibility to attack the imaging devices. They found that CT devices face the greatest risk of cyber-attack due to their pivotal role in acute-care imaging. They also added that malware can be used to encrypt a victim’s files and demand ransom to decrypt them.


BGU cyber experts are working on new techniques to secure CT devices based on machine learning. In order to discover and find solutions for the attacks, Mahler and his team plan to collaborate with imaging manufacturers or hospital systems.

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