Experts Say Medical Care Next Big Cyber Threat


Panelists discuss risks posed by new ‘Internet of Bodies’

“Medical care is the next cyber warfare,” technologist Janine Medina explained Thursday at a panel on the cybersecurity problems posed by the emerging prevalence of internet-connected medical and body-embedded devices.

Medina appeared alongside several other panelists at the Atlantic Council to discuss how “Internet of Bodies” (IoB) devices could pose security challenges requiring novel regulatory solutions. The conversation comes in the context of several high-profile attacks using Internet of Things-related devices, as well as the major leak of collected personal information after the hacking of credit-rating agency Equifax in July. According to Medina, as well as co-panelist Andrea Matwyshyn, the increasing incorporation of Internet of Things devices into human bodies, especially for medical purposes, exposes new risks for which individuals, corporations, and the government are insufficiently prepared.

The so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to the trove of internet-enabled devices beyond one’s laptop: the internet-connected car or thermostat or alarm clock. One analysis suggests there are now some 8.4 billion IoT devices, projected to grow to 20.4 billion by 2020.

Among these devices, Matwyshyn explained, are an increasing number of body-related tools, both medical and not. These may be as insignificant as fitness trackers like FitBit, or as complicated as the antenna that artist Neil Harbisson had implanted directly into his skull in order to “hear” color.

“The legal and technological challenges of the Internet of Things will transfer into this Internet of Bodies,” Matwyshyn said, “particularly the challenges we’ve faced with respect to rampant security vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things.”

These vulnerabilities include the ease of IoT devices being appropriated by hackers into so-called botnets, which can be used to contribute enormous amounts of processing power to attacks on websites. Last October, the Mirai botnet attack temporarily took down major sites including Twitter, Spotify, and PayPal primarily using a “swarm” of IoT devices. Other vulnerabilities include internet-connected devices susceptible to ransomware attacks, like the WannaCry infection that infected more than 200,000 computers in May.

The IoB, however, poses particular security challenges beyond those inherent in more mundane IoT devices. “The Internet of Bodies will for the first time mean that software will start causing physical harm to human bodies with some regularity, and this is a new step for law in particular to deal with, and to resolve the harms that will result from that,” Matwyshyn explained. Hacking of a toaster is one thing; hacking of a liver, something else entirely.

Full article: Experts Say Medical Care Next Big Cyber Threat (Washington Free Beacon)

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