Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare

Week three of National Cybersecurity Month 2020: securing internet connected devices in healthcare. This week we dive into the roles of healthcare professionals and what your role is for tele-health.

Telehealth - A New Era of Healthcare 

Telehealth: providing healthcare remotely using telecommunication technology. The future of our healthcare systems are building upon the need of telehealth care and appointments. If you haven’t heard of it before, the rise of the coronavirus pandemic probably changed that. Although telehealth is not a new concept to us, as the need is increasing in our communities for safe healthcare and the need to secure telehealth is growing as well. 

Telehealth is not only limited to meeting with your doctor over a video conference, but how patients receive care via internet-connected devices. Examples of these types of devices include pacemakers, glucose monitors, implanted defibrillators, and many more. These devices are a part of the Internet of Things, which allows these devices to work and communicate together. If there is an IoT breach the privacy and lives of patients could be at risk.

So if there is a breach in the IoT, what does this actually mean for patients? Hackers will have access to their monitors and take control of their Patient Personal Identifiable Information, or PII. This is where attack vectors such as ransomware come into play. The hackers will demand a sum of money be paid in exchange for return of control over a patient's or hospital’s IoT connected devices. 

Obviously it’s crucial that we make sure our telehealth connected devices are secure, but how do we do this? It is equally important for telehealth providers and patients to do their cybersecurity part.

The Role of Healthcare Providers

When it comes time for healthcare providers to select a tech company to support their telehealth program they have quite a few rules to follow. They must be using encrypted, HIPAA compliant services for video conferencing and other transfer of sensitive data. This is to ensure that the privacy data of patients under HIPAA laws stay confidential. This also leads to their role in limiting data storage of video and audio to mitigate risk of those files being compromised in the event of a data breach.

Your Role

Although most of the responsibility lies in the hands of your healthcare provider to ensure your data is kept confidential, there are many things a patient can do to ensure security on their end. Making sure you have antivirus and anti-malware solutions downloaded and enabled on the devices you are using is crucial to ensure your data is one step further from hackers. If you didn’t catch last week’s blog for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, check out these eight tips to help secure your devices, all of which can help prevent these cyberattacks. 

Telehealth is an amazing addition to patients physical safety and well-being when it is used in conjunction with strong cybersecurity practices. When it comes to using telehealth services in your personal life use this month's theme to remember proper cybersecurity practices: Do your part. #BeCyberSmart