There’s probably no mention of malware in the Hippocratic Oath. However, malicious software is now posing as much of a threat to patient’s lives as a hospital superbug or a slip of the scalpel. While doctors battle to restore their charges to good health, their efforts are being under mined by lax security in medical machinery. Alarmingly, 85% of hospitals in the US don’t have any specialist IT security staff.
The effect of the WannaCry ransomware incursion on the NHS earlier this year highlighted the vulnerability of hospitals worldwide to a malware attack – which could easily have prevented patients receiving life-saving treatment. In a simulated exercise, US doctors found that patients could die almost immediately if lifts and refrigerators failed to function.
Some machines are just too old to be patched and manufactures of new systems are failing to address security issues with adequate speed. Red tape is also slowing down the security process. Perhaps a high profile catastrophe or two will help to focus attention on this problem.