Technology has a huge role in our lives, we depend on it even more, including our smartwatch and also our medical device. Unfortunately, we usually forgot that even our medical devices, the ones they help to save lives, are also technological devices that could be affected by many security issues like a normal PC … and hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities!
A report issued by Forrester released some days ago, predict that for 2016 we will start seeing ransomware take advantage of medical devices.
Now imagine that a patient having a pacemaker suddenly receives a message on his phone saying “Want to keep using the pacemaker? “, ” pay us 2 bitcoins”, it may look bizarre, but its probably things that may happen in a near future.
It is a bold prediction by “Predictions 2016: Cybersecurity Swings To Prevention” report, but honestly it’s something that already crossed our minds.
“It’s definitely feasible from a technical standpoint,” “see it as something that could happen next year. All that would be required from an attacker standpoint is small modifications to the malware to make it work.” Explained Billy Rios, a popular hacker and medical device security researcher.
We could argue that it’s not correct to get a profit from situations like this, but many crooks, just don’t care.
The ICS-ALERT-13-164-01 from 2013 done by Rios and Terry McCorkle showed that 300 medical devices were using hard-coded passwords, that are set at the factory, that can’t be disabled or changed, these passwords are discriminated in the manual of the manufacturer.
The truth is, Cyber security exist probably since the last 15-25 years, but it’s something new in the Medical Industry and as Joshua Corman, founder of I Am the Cavalry says:
“While we’ve been doing this for 15-25 years in cyber, this is year zero or one for them [the healthcare industry],”“We can’t give them 15-25 years to catch up, although it’s not reasonable to get there overnight….We’re trying to approach this with teamwork and ambassador skill, not a pointing finger, but a helping hand.”
Ransomware is a huge business, and the major security vendors have been saying that 2015 had a huge increase in the Ransomware use and profit, and it tends to get even more with the IoT and all the devices connected to the internet.
Months ago on SecurityAffairs we talked about a list developed by I Am The Cavalry that was created to mitigate threat in cars, and now they are planning the same type of list but this time for medical devices.
There are many challenges ahead, when dealing with Medical devices, but we are starting to see many people worried about it, so I believe that many security researchers will focus their attention on them, but for this we also need the support of the medical devices manufacturers.
About the Author Elsio Pinto
(Security Affairs – ransomware, medical devices)