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Blog / 5 min read

Complete Guide: Securing Healthcare IoT Devices

The Claroty Team
/ July 31st, 2023
Complete Guide: Securing Healthcare IoT Devices

Advancements in clinical infrastructure, medical devices, and digital transformation have caused major growth across the healthcare sector. Strikingly, the healthcare internet of things (IoT) market is anticipated to increase from USD 127.7 billion in 2023 to USD 289.2 billion by 20281. With new connected medical device technology becoming more intertwined with our daily lives, we have witnessed enhanced healthcare experiences and improved health outcomes for patients. Although this connectivity has brought about unprecedented benefits to the healthcare sector, the benefits are steadily becoming outpaced by cybersecurity threats as the attack surface continues to expand. This challenge has made it exceedingly important for organizations to establish a strong healthcare IoT cybersecurity strategy to ensure resilience throughout their critical environments.  

What is Healthcare IoT?

Healthcare devices are one of the fastest growing segments of the IoT market. These devices integrate internet-connectivity and/or sensor technology to allow healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) to improve patient outcomes, enhance operational efficiency, and monitor and manage their healthcare systems remotely. Healthcare IoT is also commonly referred to as the internet of medical things (IoMT), and is being used in several different ways including:

  • Remote patient monitoring in order to monitor patients vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and more;

  • In medical devices such as insulin pumps and pacemakers where data can be collected and transmitted to healthcare professionals to improve patient care;

  • For hospital infrastructure management, allowing Healthcare building management systems (BMS) to control temperature, lighting, air quality, and more — enabling cost savings and efficient resource management;

  • And finally, in telemedicine and virtual care, empowering patients to connect with healthcare providers from the comfort of their own home.

Although healthcare IoT has revolutionized the way patients receive care, and has allowed for greater efficiency and improved decision-making, its hyperconnectivity has also introduced myriad challenges. These pitfalls include the creation of an expanded attack surface for cybercriminals to disrupt patient care and potentially cause safety issues, data privacy and protected health information (PHI) concerns, and regulatory compliance challenges. Throughout this blog, we will dive deeper into the major challenges facing healthcare IoT and discuss the steps HDOs can take to ensure their unique environments are protected.   

What are the Major Challenges & Security Risks Facing Healthcare IoT? 

HDOs are continually adding more connected medical devices to their environment in order to improve patient care, but these devices are also introducing additional cyber risk. This is due to the following healthcare IoT device challenges:

1. Unknown number of connected devices

Everyday, new devices are being connected to the HDO network, many times without proper authorization. Although these devices are essential to patient care, they also introduce additional cyber risk. With this vast array of connected devices, deployed across a number of facilities, healthcare organizations can find it difficult to identify and keep track of all these devices.

2. Incomplete device profiles:

It is difficult for HDOs to maintain an up-to-date device profile through manual effort alone as devices can have many different methods of identification or lack consistent naming conventions. Device information also may not be easily accessible; and details like device type, version, or configuration can vary, making it difficult to gain complete device profiles. Through the use of out-of-date processes and general-purpose discovery tools critical device details and threats will be missed — introducing additional cyber risk. 

3. Network traffic reporting lacks details:

Healthcare environments consist of a wide range of devices from various manufacturers, with their own communication protocols, interfaces, and configurations. And, traditional security tools lack the critical details needed to understand healthcare IoT device workflows. If the appropriate policies and controls are not set, healthcare organizations risk disrupting care or affecting patient outcomes. 

Next, we will discuss how to tackle these challenges head-on and ensure you have full spectrum visibility into the environment. 

How to Secure Healthcare IoT Devices?

Effective cybersecurity starts with understanding what needs to be secured. That's why having a comprehensive device inventory is the foundation of an HDOs cybersecurity journey. With Medigate by Claroty, organizations can address their device discovery challenges in the following ways:

Gain a complete visibility of connected devices in your clinical environment:

Organizations should begin their journey to cyber and operational resilience by gaining full visibility into all connected devices in their clinical environment. First, organizations should begin by getting a handle on the blindspots within their asset inventory, from medical devices to IoT devices, even building management systems (BMS). Medigate’s combined use of both passive and light-active collection techniques — as well as compatibility with over 500 communication protocols — enables HDOs to see and understand all devices, their traffic, and how they are connected to and communicate with one another.

Integrate your existing IT tech stack and workflows:

Once organizations have an understanding of all connected devices, they may notice gaps in governance across IT workflows. In order to successfully secure the environments that underpin healthcare delivery organizations, Claroty encourages them to extend their existing tools and workflows from IT and OT. The flexibility of the Medigate platform enables organizations to unify the data our visibility provides with the already existing workflow they may have set-up.  

Extend your existing IT security controls and governance into your clinical environment:

Once you have connected this new found visibility with your existing tech stack, you can extend your IT security controls across your hospital environment in clinical and non-clinical workflows. This will allow organizations to unify their security governance and drive all use cases on their journey to cyber and operational resilience. 

Medical device cybersecurity is critical for healthcare organizations as hundreds of thousands of life-sustaining or life-supporting medical devices are being used in hospitals across the United States. Understanding where these devices are located, their unique device attributes, how they are being utilized is foundational to establishing a strong healthcare cybersecurity strategy and ensuring the cyber and operational resilience of your healthcare environment. As digital transformation continues to rise and new devices are created to enhance patient care, organizations will find they are fueling their device discovery issue. But, with a cyber-physical systems (CPS) security provider, like Claroty, organizations can gain the tools they need to solve their device discovery challenges and ensure their healthcare IoT is protected from emerging cyber threats.   


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