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By Stephanie Musal • November 28, 2016

The Anatomy of Medical Device Attacks

With tools available like wearables, IoT hospital equipment and implantables, people are getting more visibility into their health everyday. By making users more aware and connected, and by providing more visibility into the day to to day life of those being treated,preventative health is solving many of healthcare’s biggest problems.


There were mixed opinions, however, when FitBit recently received FDA approval to be used for medical monitoring. Considering 94% of Health Organizations have fallen victim to cyber attacks and of those 94% IoT was the most targeted by cyber criminals, these criticisms may be within reason.


As consumers, it’s important to look at the healthcare products we are using everyday and understand the risks associated with them.



FitBit alone has over 9 million active users. With FDA approval there is still the risk of patient data theft. Without proper security measures, hackers are able to steal the sensitive data being collected and analyzed from these devices.


Hospital Equipment

It’s important to note that while organizations may be “compliant”, that does not necessarily mean secure. From laptops to X-Ray machines, the proper measures need to be taken to prevent malware. Any medical device infected with malware can spread to other pieces of medical technology.



Implantables might be the most serious of the vulnerabilities. Hackers have the capability to take control of a device and manipulate it. An insulin pump, for example, can be taken over by hackers who can then deny or provide a lethal dose of the medication, remotely.


Considering these three instances, there is a lot of damage that can happen within a healthcare organization that is irreversible. When a healthcare organization undergoes a cyber attack they are putting hospital equipment, patient data and patient lives at risk. There is also an intangible cost to brand damage. 38% of patients say they would be wary of using a hospital associated with a hacked medical device.


If you’re interested in learning more about IoT in mHealth, check out our latest whitepaper here.