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Cybersecurity vulnerabilities in medical devices: a complex environment and multifaceted problem

Authors Williams P, Woodward A

Received 15 April 2015

Accepted for publication 19 May 2015

Published 20 July 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 305—316

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/MDER.S50048

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Patricia AH Williams, Andrew J Woodward

eHealth Research Group and Security Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia

Abstract: The increased connectivity to existing computer networks has exposed medical devices to cybersecurity vulnerabilities from which they were previously shielded. For the prevention of cybersecurity incidents, it is important to recognize the complexity of the operational environment as well as to catalog the technical vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity protection is not just a technical issue; it is a richer and more intricate problem to solve. A review of the factors that contribute to such a potentially insecure environment, together with the identification of the vulnerabilities, is important for understanding why these vulnerabilities persist and what the solution space should look like. This multifaceted problem must be viewed from a systemic perspective if adequate protection is to be put in place and patient safety concerns addressed. This requires technical controls, governance, resilience measures, consolidated reporting, context expertise, regulation, and standards. It is evident that a coordinated, proactive approach to address this complex challenge is essential. In the interim, patient safety is under threat.

Keywords: cybersecurity, security, safety, wireless, risk, medical devices

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