Exploiting Connected Medical Devices

Risk of IoT Devices

The Phantom Menace: 

The healthcare industry is being increasingly targeted by ill-intended actors. This past year there were countless attacks on healthcare, with two major victims being the Irish health service system and the Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL) of the Regione Lazione in Italy. These are just two examples of the disruption that can occur following a cyberattack on the medical industry. The Lazio’s ASL was targeted to disrupt the vaccine campaign, something the perpetrators manages to achieve. In the case of Ireland, while the motive was unclear, the disruption caused by the attack resulted in the death of a 36-year-old woman. Casualties, thankfully, are rare, but physical consequences of cyberattacks are quickly becoming a new norm, especially since on average, there are 10-15 healthcare connected medical devices per hospital bed.

More traditionally, bad actors target healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) because of the potential for quick earnings. Protected Health Information (PHI) is extremely valuable. On the black-market, medical records go for up to $250 each, compared to the second most valuable type of record (payment cards) which reaches only $5.40.

Attack of the Hackers: 

Cybercriminals are always trying to find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, and healthcare connected medical devices offer such opportunity. Attackers can hack and manipulate personal medical devices. In doing so, malicious actors have the power to adjust – and even turn on and off – these devices, potentially harming patients. The interconnected environment of healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) allows for lateral movement. This means bad actors can infect/gain control over more devices and/or the entire system.

Threat actors are turning towards hardware-based attacks to infiltrate their targets, using IoMTs and traditional IT as entry points to the organization. To access such assets, perpetrators might try to infiltrate the structure and plug in a thumb key USB or a spoofed device. Moreover, healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, are relatively accessible. With hundreds of people walking in and out every day, a malicious actor can slip in with the crowd. However, in many cases, they won’t even have to do it themselves… They will simply exploit people’s naivety through social engineering. Employees are highly susceptible to social engineering, whereby they unwittingly bring a spoofed device inside the organization.

The Invisible Disease: 

Spoofed peripherals bypass existing security solutions due to Layer 1 manipulation. Existing solutions, such as NAC, EDS and IoT security, fail to cover Layer 1. As such, spoofed peripherals are recognized as the legitimate device they impersonate, thereby raising no alarms. In other words, these malicious devices face no obstacles once inside the organization and allow the perpetrator to move laterally throughout the network.

A New Hope: 

A safe response against these threats is the HAC-1 solution developed by Sepio Systems. The HAC-1 solution calculates a digital fingerprint of all IT, OT and IoT assets, meaning every healthcare connected medical device gets detected for what it truly is. Additionally, the comprehensive policy enforcement mechanism of the HAC-1 solution, combined with its Rogue Device Mitigation capability, means that any unapproved or rogue hardware, such as spoofed peripherals, is blocked instantly, preventing any hardware-based attacks from occurring.

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