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Hospital Hacks

by Brent Kirkpatrick

(Date Published: .)

Hospital hacks are life threatening.

The least acceptable form of hacking is of hospitals. A combination of over-reliance by medical professionals on networked technologies and hospital hacking is a recipe for disaster. There are a variety of reasons for hacking a hospital, including ransom-ware, disabling medical equipment, falsifying medical records, medical insurance fraud, and even attempts on people's lives.

cartoon: hospital computers
Imagine a hospital hit with ransom-ware. In this hospital a medical assistant in the ER clicks a link on a web site to download a PDF, and that terminal becomes infected with ransom-ware. Suddenly all the information files used to run the ER equipment are being encrypted. Machines start going off-line and sounding errors. Several ER patients are life-flighted to a different hospital. Loss of life: none.

Imagine a second hospital hit by a worm. The worm targets a driver for a robotics package normally used in factories. Unfortunately, all the vital-signs machines use this driver. In seconds after the network is infected by the worm, all the machines that monitor vital signs go down. As IT tries to replace failed machines with new ones, those also get infected. It takes a week to restore the machines. During that time, the whole ER is shut down, patients are moved, and hundreds of lives are lost due to heart failure.

Intrepid Net Computing can help with rapid recovery.

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