Technology

Protecting Patients from Ransomware

IT support within pharma, healthcare, and biotech must be all encompassing to ensure that patient data is protected from all angles. There are many different ways in which this can be approached, but one area that must be paid significant attention is through the use of medical devices and how patients are protected from ransomware. Medical devices must have a process in place to manage data and protocols from an IT security position, but also balanced with the functional requirements of remaining operational in an effective and safe way.

There are different ways in which this can be achieved, including utilising the very latest in analytics to understand risk assessments for medical devices, find and repair any malfunctions that are present, and to ensure that standards and productivity of medical staff remains on an upward trajectory with the sole aim of improving health standards and patient care.

There have been examples of ransomware attacks on medical devices in recent years, utilising potential vulnerability of medical devices to cause breaches in healthcare security that can have far-reaching consequences in terms of patient records and information. This is all down to the fact that many healthcare and healthcare institution operating systems have historically been weak enough to fall foul of attacks.

This change in vulnerability has come with the change in the way in which medical devices have been manufactured in recent times. There is much more uniformity in production, whereas in the past medical devices were built with exclusive features in mind and a certain degree of inaccessibility from the outside world and in terms of firmware.

Standard operating systems have many benefits of course, as it is much easier to manage on an IT level and to ensure that there is productivity, clear responsibility, easier training potential for healthcare staff, and easy solutions for collecting, storing, managing, and moving patient data to different areas. However, these benefits also pose a problem as it makes it easier for ransomware attacks to take place. There have been examples of ransomware attacks on medical devices such as precision machines that are used to enhance MRI scan results and images.

Seeing examples of ransomware attacks such as this was a shocking turn of events and meant that there had to be a new approach to protect patient records and information. Medical devices are where the new frontline is for healthcare and pharma IT companies in the battle of patient data protection.

Ensuring that medical devices are safe from ransomware attacks means understanding the sector and understanding the profile and behaviour of both the medical device and the healthcare professional tasked with using that medical device. Once a pattern of use and behaviour can be established, it is easier for an IT professional to identify unusual use and unusual patterns that could be a potential threat. Working with an IT company that specialises in healthcare, pharma, and biotech will help a healthcare institution to devise and implement strategies to protect against ransomware and other types of cyberattack, protecting patient data in the process.

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