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Design News, February 2013

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Medical Medical Device Vulnerabilities: Deciding What to Protect and How to Protect It Safety is important and new technologies can enhance the patient experience. By Alan Walsh, Logic PD M obile medical devices today incorporate an increasingly broad array of consumer-style electronics technology: wireless connectivity, softwarecontrolled functionality, and even open source software. This combination introduces unique opportunities for improved usability and improved patient outcomes. It also poses new risks for patient safety. Just as with mobile phones and tablets, as the devices become more commonplace and the potential value of accessing those devices increases, the number and nature of malicious attacks is likely to increase substantially. This article provides a brief overview of the opportunities to enhance the patient experience with these new technologies, and the kind of steps that can mitigate some of the more common attack vectors. Yes — your new glucose pump is vulnerable, as are other medical devices. Even if it is still just an idea known only to you, it is vulnerable to kidnapping and sodium pentothal. Of course that does not mean we should stop thinking of new ideas for glucose pumps that can dramatically improve patient outcomes, and/or patient quality of life, or that reduce costs, or in other ways improve the overall practice of healthcare. While the example of kidnapping and "truth serum" may sound extreme, it highlights two key observations: every device has vulnerabilities, and many times the risk of these vulner- [w w w. de s ig n n e w s . c o m ] abilities being exploited is acceptable. This article will explore some of the more common usability enhancements available for medical device manufacturers today, vulnerabilities and exploits associated with those enhancements, and some suggestions for approaches that may mitigate the risk of exploitation. This article is not a prescription for a completely secure device. One important element of security measures is keeping them secret. When you develop a security strategy, for your new device, be sure not to overlook the fact that limiting the number of people with detailed knowledge of your strategy limits the risk of successful attacks. While it is not possible to outline a specific set of measures that will work for every product for any specific vulnerability, it is possible to outline a process that includes the key steps needed to create a formal security strategy for your new device. Decide What to Protect The very first step is to decide what is important to protect. Your strategy will depend on whether you are protecting company IP, patient data, patient safety, or preventing unauthorized service usage. Start by recognizing you cannot eliminate all exploitation risk for any vulnerability, and decide what level of time, effort, and cost are justified to address the identified vulnerabilities. Keep your security strategy secret. F E B RU A RY 2013 me dical / a s up p le me nt to de s ign news M9

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