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Why is IoT security so critical to healthcare?

Even the strongest IT security doesn’t always “walk the walk” when it comes to the IoT.
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The Internet of Things (IoT) is composed of countless online connections. And while these connected IoT devices promise so many exciting benefits, the “brave new world” of IoT can also result in new vulnerabilities for cyberattackers to compromise an organization’s infrastructure. And nowhere are these security concerns more critical than in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

At first glance, this might seem like a no-brainer. In today’s day and age, you would think every healthcare organization would have some sort of security infrastructure in place for their IoT solutions. But even though most have strong IT security measures in place when it comes to information systems, traditional cybersecurity doesn’t always “walk the walk” when it comes to the IoT.

The first challenge is that there are myriad ways that inadequate security measures around IoT devices and systems can compromise a hospital or healthcare organization. Many payers and providers have IoT devices that are deployed in diverse and remote locations, often outside of their own networks. Others might have devices that lack the necessary security features to reduce the risk of remote hijacking. With these factors in mind, the need for IoT security becomes clear.

Effective IoT security practices start with one critical element: credentials. Having a framework that enables strong authentication between a device and server and between one device and another device is an essential first step. Then, credentials issued to the connected devices of your workforce will only allow trusted devices to communicate with your organization’s infrastructure. Whether in a hospital or pharmaceutical company, these measures protect sensitive patient data and other information exchanged among a wide range of devices – from smartphones to tablets or any other device that leverages standard digital certificate protocols.

Maintaining the privacy of patient records and data is paramount to healthcare. To that end, for organizations that are deploying IoT solutions, either internally at the operational level or at the edge of remote patient monitoring, IoT security is not optional. It’s essential to the execution of your business and the provision of your services. There’s really a simple rule of thumb. If a healthcare facility (1) has data being collected and exchanged via connected medical and other devices, and (2) those devices are connected via the Internet, IoT security is critical to prevent hacking and data breaches.

Rest assured – it’s not all doom and gloom. The potential for breaches is the reality of doing business in the connected world, but you don’t have to be vulnerable to hackers to realize the benefits of IoT. You may be wondering, “Am I vulnerable? Are my systems secure?” Just start with a few easy steps. Consider what type of security measures you currently have around your IoT connections. (If you don’t know, stop reading this and go find out.) If there are few (or none) currently, you now know what you need to do. Position the right security measures around these systems and all points of connection – make sure your protocols include critical components such as encryption of data and authentication of all devices. Once the right IoT security measures are in place, IoT can improve the efficiency of your organizations, support your compliance goals and take your operations to a place you might never have imagined.

About the Author: Damon Hopley, Senior Manager, Product Management, IoT Security, Verizon Wireless