Healthcare News & Insights

MacBooks and infusion pumps may be at risk for hacking

New cybersecurity threats continue to emerge in the healthcare industry — and now providers have to be careful about new cybersecurity risks in two commonly used devices. 

Symbiq-Infusion-PumpNow that hackers and outside cyberattacks are the leading cause of data breaches for the industry, hospital leaders must pay close attention to any potential threats or system vulnerabilities that could expose patient data.

Recently, IT experts pointed out two pontential openings hackers could exploit to steal information through Apple firmware and Hospira medication pumps.

Hackers and med pumps

As Modern Healthcare reports, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned healthcare leaders to stop using Hospira’s Symbiq medication infusion pump.

According to the FDA, the pump could be at risk for outside attack and infiltration. The feds says the pumps can be accessed and taken over through a facility’s system and used to further access information or covertly injure a patient.

The agency is recommending providers disconnect these pumps and close any unused ports.

Even though Hospira stopped producing the Symbiq pump in 2013, some of the devices might still be in use or being sold by other third-party vendors. In response to cybersecurity concerns, Hospira has promised that newer products and pumps have added protections against possible breaches.

This isn’t the first warning from the feds about the risk of hackers taking over medical devices this year. However, it is the first time the FDA has had to tell providers to stop using a device flat-out due to a cybersecurity threat, which should be concerning for facilities using older technology.

Breaking into Macs

Facilities should also be concerned because technology and devices previously thought to be secure, may not be as breach-proof as previously believed.

Data shows that a large number of physicians rely on Apple products and MacBooks to perform their work. They believe that Apple products are more secure than the PCs which commonly are used in other areas of facilities for day-to-day tasks.

Typically, that may be true. But two IT experts recently blew a hole in the theory that Mac computers were fool-proof to hacking or vulnerabilities.

As Wired reports, Xeno Kovah, a founder of the It-security consultancy Legba Core, and Trammell Hudson, a computer programmer, have found that several firmware vulnerabilities affecting PCs could also impact Mac security as well.

To prove their theory, the pair also built a virus which exploits the “Thunderstrike vulnerability” in MacsBooks, and jump to other computers. From there, a user could remotely target computers and bypass most security.

What’s worse though is that Kovah says this kind of attack is incredibly hard to detect or fix after its been discovered.

Thankfully, this particular worm likely won’t hit any computers, but now that Kovah and Hudson have found the flaws in the MacBook armor, facilities need to be wary of other attacks.

Healthcare leaders should be on the lookout for updates or other security patches from Apple in the coming months. So far the company has patched one vulnerability, but several others remain.

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