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Cyberthreats risk to medical data, FDA warns

Posting in Food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging medical device makers and hospitals to upgrade security in light of the rising threat of cybercrime.

Security experts have warned that a number of medical devices including pacemakers and insulin pumps may be vulnerable to hacking, and so could be turned off or disrupted. Although no incidents have been reported, such cases remain a possibility.

In addition, outdated hospital systems can be penetrated by cybercriminals looking to benefit from the theft of intellectual property or patient records.

As a result, the FDA has issued an advisory notice warning that manufacturers, hospitals and patients need to protect themselves better.

The warning says that "many medical devices contain configurable embedded computer systems that can be vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches," and as devices continue to become more integrated through the Internet and mobile technology, the risk of hacking becomes worse. The FDA said:

"Specifically we recommend that manufacturers review their cybersecurity practices and policies to assure that appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized access or modification to their medical devices or compromise of the security of the hospital network that may be connected to the device."

The U.S. agency also suggests that steps need to be taken to limit unauthorized access to devices, especially when they are "life sustaining." Biometrics and passwords also should be reviewed.

Read More: Huffington Post

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on June 13, 2013, 8:13 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure