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Cyber Attacks And Medical Devices, The New Frontier

Today, people are on high alert that their digital identity is under attack. Bank records, text message exchanges, emails, photos, you name it and a possibility exists that a cyber hacker could get their hands on incredibly private information. However, it now appears that hackers are invading the world of health care and in a very dangerous way.

Now, implantable, wireless medical devices have become a prime target for cyber attackers.

2016 set a record for breaches of hospital electronic health records leading many to fear that a shift from records to devices may be inevitable.

Zach Rothstein, the Associate Vice President at the Advanced Medical Technology Association said, “The medical device industry, I would say in the last two-and-a-half years or so, has gone from general understanding of the issue, general participation to extreme awareness and participation in cybersecurity efforts.”

In October 2016, prominent medical device manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, notified 114,000 patients that a hacker could have the capability to breach one of its insulin pumps. An attack would have likely involved disabling the pump or altering the dosage of medication that the device provides.

The fact of the matter is that this is early days for medical device manufacturers and cyber attacks. Most manufacturers did not anticipate such security issues when they were originally designing the devices which now leaves the devices, and their users, open to attack. British and Belgian researchers found security flaws in 10 implantable cardioverter defibrillators currently on the market. However, companies are adjusting, shifting focus to protecting their consumers.

The Food and Drug Administration has become aware of the issue and has now issued guidance to device manufacturers on how to address threats of hacking. The guidance was largely based upon the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s 2014 Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. While the threat of an attack is a scary thought, it is important to remember that the fact remains that patients are safer with the life-saving devices than they are without. As companies continue to evolve into the new world of cyber security, improvements will be made that will help put patients’ minds at ease.

Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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