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Health alert: FDA initiative to keep hackers out of medical devices takes giant step forward

Health alert: FDA initiative to keep hackers out of medical devices takes giant step forward
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

It's bad enough when a hacker takes over your computer and steals your online banking username, password, and your money. What's that saying? "It's only money."

Far worse is when hackers hack into life-saving medical devices. We've told you too many times about this all-too-real threat, when cybercriminals remotely break into internet-connected medical devices that keep people alive.

And of course, there have been a slew of recent hospital ransomware hacks that put your health records and prescriptions into hackers' hands. Fortunately, the federal government is taking a giant step forward in ensuring that the medical devices that keep you alive are secure.

Congressman Jim Langevin from Rhode Island, who co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, recently signed a letter of support for the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) cybersecurity guidelines for medical equipment makers. In January, the FDA issued a draft of these guidelines.

Among the FDA's recommendations is that medical device manufacturers share information about cyberthreats with other manufactures. "All medical devices that use software and are connected to hospital and health care organizations' networks have vulnerabilities," said Dr. Suzanne Schwartz, the director of emergency preparedness for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

"Some we can proactively protect against, while others require vigilant monitoring and timely remediation," she said.

The FDA had their guidelines open for public comment until last week. In his letter, Rep. Langevin said:

"The threat [that] malicious actors pose to medical devices is particularly concerning, as many of these devices have the potential to harm patient safety if compromised. Swift remediation, notification of customers and participation in information sharing represent the heart of the guidance and are well tuned to materially improve patient safety within the industry."

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Source: FCW
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