Your Next Breath May Be Compromised By Malware

For some, breathing requires the assistance and support of healthcare providers and medical respiratory equipment. But as a patient or caretaker of a loved one who relies on these devices, would you be concerned about receiving updates from the manufacturer through the Internet?

We often take for granted how connected our lives are and how the things we rely on are constantly updated. We have become accustomed to updating our applications without hesitation – from downloading updates to mobile devices to regularly checking for Microsoft patches on your laptop to avoid Trojans and malware.

This is NOT the proper reaction when it comes to devices that are critical to health and life support, even if they are connected and able to do so.

Recently, the support website for a respiratory manufacturer’s updates was repeatedly found guilty of proliferating malware. Viruses may have been streamed to patients’ devices via automatic software updates, raising concerns about how many devices were compromised and what should be the next steps for both patients and manufacturers. There is no easy solution, and devices that are integral to patient health present unique IT challenges. Updates need to be tested and verified to make sure that the process of delivery does not cause any issues with the performance, availability or the integrity of the device.

Registered mail ensures that a letter is delivered without being tampered with, and it requires the signature of the recipient completing the delivery. Connected medical devices can leverage a similar business process that ensures delivery without compromise. It takes a few more steps and technologies like McAfee’s Embedded Control, which uses application whitelisting with digital certificate updater support, but it can provide the verification and protection needed to manage updates to critical devices.

No one wants to hinder innovations in healthcare technology, but patients don’t want their next breath to be compromised by malware either. By choosing the right security solutions for connected medical devices, we can all breathe easier.

 -Kim Singletary

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