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Cybersecurity Threats and Medical Devices: What You Need to Know

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 23-Feb-2017

In our connected world, most of us understand the need for improved cybersecurity for our computers and mobile devices—but did you realize many medical devices may also be at risk? These devices frequently contain computers that connect to a network, making them possibly susceptible to cybersecurity threats, just like any other computer.

In a recent article, the FDA acknowledged the potential for danger: Cybersecurity threats are real, ever-present, and continuously changing,” says the FDA. “In fact, hospital networks experience constant attempts of intrusion and attack, which can pose a threat to patient safety. And as hackers become more sophisticated, these cybersecurity risks will evolve.”

The good news

Happily, the FDA has been proactive in identifying and addressing the reality of cybersecurity threats to medical devices, and has recently published an extensive set of guidelines for manufacturers to help reduce patient risk. Among the FDA’s recommendations are for manufacturers to put systems in place to identify and address possible cyberattacks, as well as developing regular updates for the devices to stay ahead of possible threats.

Suggestions for medical device users

If you use a medical device, you aren’t necessarily in danger, but you should be aware of the potential risks of cyberattack. Here are some suggestions to ensure your own health while receiving benefit from a medical device:

  • Ask your physician about the device’s network connectivity and what safeguards might be in place.
  • Contact the manufacturer to ask how they are addressing cybersecurity threats.
  • Keep your medical device up to date with the latest security patches.
  • If your device connects to your own home Internet service, make sure your Internet service is password-protected to guard against threats.

For more information on current medical technological advances, see our recent post on 5 Emerging Medical Technologies.

If you or a loved one has experienced harm due to a defective medical device, talk to our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys to discuss your options.

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