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How To Protect Healthcare IoT Devices In A Zero Trust World

  • Over 100M healthcare IoT devices are installed worldwide today, growing to 161M by 2020, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.2% in just three years according to Statista.
  • Healthcare executives say privacy concerns (59%), legacy system integration (55%) and security concerns (54%) are the top three barriers holding back Internet of Things (IoT) adoption in healthcare organizations today according to the Accenture 2017 Internet of Health Things Survey.
  • The global IoT market is projected to soar from $249B in 2018 to $457B in 2020, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.4% in just three years according to Statista.

Healthcare and medical device manufacturers are in a race to see who can create the smartest and most-connected IoT devices first. Capitalizing on the rich real-time data monitoring streams these devices can provide, many see the opportunity to break free of product sales and move into more lucrative digital service business models. According to Capgemini’s “Digital Engineering, The new growth engine for discrete manufacturers,” the global market for smart, connected products is projected to be worth $519B to $685B by 2020. The study can be downloaded here (PDF, 40 pp., no opt-in). 47% of a typical manufacturer’s product portfolio by 2020 will be comprised of smart, connected products. In the gold rush to new digital services, data security needs to be a primary design goal that protects the patients these machines are designed to serve. The following graphic from the study shows how organizations producing smart, connected products are making use of the data generated today.

Healthcare IoT Device Data Doesn’t Belong For Sale On The Dark Web

Every healthcare IoT device from insulin pumps and diagnostic equipment to Remote Patient Monitoring is a potential attack surface for cyber adversaries to exploit. And the healthcare industry is renowned for having the majority of system breaches initiated by insiders. 58% of healthcare systems breach attempts involve inside actors, which makes this the leading industry for insider threats today according to Verizon’s 2018 Protected Health Information Data Breach Report (PHIDBR).

Many employees working for medical providers are paid modest salaries and often have to regularly work hours of overtime to make ends meet. Stealing and selling medical records is one of the ways those facing financial challenges look to make side money quickly and discreetly. And with a market on the Dark Web willing to pay up to $1,000 or more for the most detailed healthcare data, according to Experian, medical employees have an always-on, 24/7 marketplace to sell stolen data. 18% of healthcare employees are willing to sell confidential data to unauthorized parties for as little as $500 to $1,000, and 24% of employees know of someone who has sold privileged credentials to outsiders, according to a recent Accenture survey. Healthcare IoT devices are a potential treasure trove to inside and outside actors who are after financial gains by hacking the IoT connections to smart, connected devices and the networks they are installed on to exfiltrate valuable medical data.

Healthcare and medical device manufacturers need to start taking action now to secure these devices during the research and development, design and engineering phases of their next generation of IoT products. Specifying and validating that every IoT access point is compatible and can scale to support Zero Trust Security (ZTS) is essential if the network of devices being designed and sold will be secure. ZTS is proving to be very effective at thwarting potential breach attempts across every threat surface an organization has. Its four core pillars include verifying the identity of every user, validating every device, limiting access and privilege, and utilizing machine learning to analyze user behavior and gain greater insights from analytics.

The First Step Is Protect Development Environments With Zero Trust Privilege

Product research & development, design, and engineering systems are all attack surfaces that cyber adversaries are looking to exploit as part of the modern threatscape. Their goals include gaining access to valuable Intellectual Property (IP), patents and designs that can be sold to competitors and on the Dark Web, or damaging and destroying development data to slow down the development of new products. Another tactic lies in planting malware in the firmware of IoT devices to exfiltrate data at scale.

Attack surfaces and the identities that comprise the new security perimeter of their companies aren’t just people; they are workloads, services, machines, and development systems and platforms. Protecting every attack surface with cloud-ready Zero Trust Privilege (ZTP) which secures access to infrastructure, DevOps, cloud, containers, Big Data, and the entire development and production environment is needed.

Zero Trust Privilege can harden healthcare and medical device manufacturers’ internal security, only granting least privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment. By implementing least privilege access, healthcare and medical device manufacturers would be able to minimize attack surfaces, improve audit and compliance visibility, and reduces risk, complexity, and costs across their development and production operations.

The Best Security Test Of All: An FDA Audit

Regulatory agencies across Asia, Europe, and North America are placing a higher priority than ever before on cybersecurity to the device level. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Cybersecurity Initiative is one of the most comprehensive, providing prescriptive guidance to manufacturers on how to attain higher levels of cybersecurity in their products.

During a recent healthcare device and medical device manufacturer’s conference, a former FDA auditor (and now Vice President of Compliance) gave a fascinating keynote on the FDA’s intent to audit medical device security at the production level. Security had been an afterthought or at best a “trust but verify” approach that relied on trusted versus untrusted machine domains. That will no longer be the case, as the FDA will now complete audits that are comparable to Zero Trust across manufacturing operations and devices.

As Zero Trust Privilege enables greater auditability than has been possible in the past, combined with a “never trust, always verify” approach to system access, healthcare device, and medical products manufacturers should start engineering in Zero Trust into their development cycles now.

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