Four ways to keep your connected healthcare device secure

You may have heard of the term ‘Internet of Things.’ 

This refers to the growing number of devices connecting to the internet worldwide, including driverless cars, drones and smart home security systems. 

Connected healthcare devices, like smart thermometers and wearable biosensors, are also forming a critical part of this network. They’re becoming increasingly common, with 50 billion devices predicted to be connected over the next ten years. 

However, due to the highly sensitive nature of the data they handle and receive, connected healthcare devices are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. These can have serious consequences for patient safety, medical staff and the healthcare industry as a whole. 

So how can I keep my connected healthcare device secure? Here are five simple steps: 

  1. Reviewing what apps and services have access to your data 

From heart-rate monitoring to biometric scanners, the medical Internet of Things (IoT) can encompass hundreds of devices at any one time. Therefore, it’s important to know who or what is accessing your data, and from where. Implementing access controls that specify which users, applications or services have access to certain devices’ data, and the operations they’re allowed to perform, can help control and restrict access to sensitive health information. 

  1. Updating passwords

Change any default usernames and passwords once your healthcare devices are registered and connected to a network. Strong passwords containing a combination of letters, numbers and special characters can make it harder for hackers to access patient data stored on devices, and ideally are not re-used between services. It’s also important to consider multi-factor authentication, which requires two or more validation methods to access devices. 

  1. Patching all your networked systems

Patching devices across your network can help address security vulnerabilities by repairing flaws identified after new software is updated or installed. Malicious users typically look for the weakest link, so even if a healthcare device is up to date and protected by a secure password, if they can get past your home network or mobile device, they may find an easier route in. Keeping everything up to date and secure will make it harder on all fronts. It’s also important to regularly audit the devices already in your home to check whether any software needs updating.

  1. Encrypting data

As the vast majority of data stored in connected healthcare devices is extremely sensitive, it’s important to turn on data encryption in transit and at rest. This turns data into a series of numbers or ciphertext that can only be read with an encryption key, meaning hackers cannot decipher health information even if they gain access to the network. 

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