Dozens of Vulnerabilities Were Just Found in Software Used in Medical Devices

The healthcare sector uses technology and IoT devices all day and every day. From the tablets that allow doctors and nurses to make notes on the go to patient monitors sending signals wirelessly to the nurses’ station, healthcare IT has become vital in most medical facilities.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the most targeted sectors by cybercriminals. The healthcare industry is particularly susceptible to ransomware attacks because the systems are vital to patient care. This leads to many hospitals and medical offices paying a ransom just to regain access to their digital systems as fast as possible.

A few statistics that show the vulnerability of the medical sector to cyberattacks include:

  • Ransomware attacks were responsible for nearly 50% of all healthcare data breaches in 2020.
  • The healthcare industry pays more than any other in the event of an attack ($408 per record).
  • Healthcare organizations only dedicate about 6% of their budgets to cybersecurity.

Dozens of vulnerabilities have been found in the software used to run medical devices such as patient monitors and anesthesia machines.

What is a Software Vulnerability?

A software vulnerability means that there has been a weakness discovered in software code that enables a hacker to take advantage of a system. This can lead to a breach of a system that the software runs, allow a hacker to manipulate a device, allow a hacker to plant ransomware or other malware or result in other debilitating actions.

The cycle of vulnerability, exploit and patch typically goes like this:

  1. Hackers (in most cases) or security experts find a vulnerability in software code.
  2. Hackers then create a piece of code called an “exploit” that will exploit that vulnerability to breach a system.
  3. As these breaches happen, manufacturers learn of the vulnerability and create patches to fix it.
  4. Users must then install those patches to protect their devices.

What is Happening With the Vulnerabilities Found in Nearly 4,000 Medical Devices?

In early November, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an advisory about a vulnerability that impacted nearly 4,000 medical devices. This vulnerability left them susceptible to being hacked. 

The vulnerabilities include multiple software weaknesses and encompass a wide variety of potential breaches.

Information Leakage

Information leakage is when an application does not properly secure the data that it transmits. It “leaks” the data which means that data can be intercepted by a hacker.

Denial-of-Service Conditions

Denial-of-Service is when a system is overloaded by requests so it essentially freezes up and stops functioning because it cannot complete all of the requests being received. This is a common tool of hackers and used to take down a system. 

Out-of-Bound Reads & Writes

Out-of-bound reads and writes is a buffer overflow vulnerability. This allows the attacker to send data to a program and even overwrite data that already exists. It can allow the hacker to gain control of the system.

Remote Code Execution

This flaw allows a hacker to remotely execute code in the system with the vulnerable software. This could be executing a code that removes security or opens a backdoor for a hacker to then become a system administrator. 

What Should You Do to Protect Your Medical Devices?

To ensure that your organization isn’t impacted by any of these vulnerabilities, it is vital that you patch/update your systems. Any internet-connected or internal network-connected device should be updated regularly to ensure that any new manufacturer patches are installed in a timely fashion.

Unfortunately, many medical facilities put off updating their technology because they don’t want to have a vital monitor or system down during an update process. However, the risk of not updating your devices is that you could introduce malware that then travels quickly throughout your network and infects multiple devices.

Why Patches & Updates Are Important:

  • Fix Security Problems: Patches are issued in response to newly found code vulnerabilities. It doesn’t do you any good to have a patch issued to stop hacker exploits if you haven’t installed it on the device.
  • Keep Systems Compatible: Updates often keep systems up to date with other software that they may need to interact with. If you don’t keep up with these, you could find that you’re beginning to have software conflicts between your systems.
  • Fix Bugs: Bug fixes are included in many software & firmware updates. Bugs are usually small issues where the code is malfunctioning (but not in a way that impacts security). 
  • Upgrade Features: Software updates for medical devices often include feature upgrades that can improve the quality of patient care and include time-saving benefits.

Get Help Keeping Your Medical IT Devices Secure & Optimized

Sound Computers can help your Connecticut medical facility ensure that your IoT devices are not leaving your network vulnerable to ransomware or another type of attack.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.

December 14, 2021
Sound Computers Admin