Cybersecurity has seen an increasing frequency and impact of cyberattacks and exposure of Protected Health Information (PHI). The uptake of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR), the exponential adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the threat surface presented for cyberattack by the healthcare sector. Within healthcare generally and, more specifically, within anaesthesia and Intensive Care, there has been an explosion in wired and wireless devices used daily in the care of almost every patient-the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT); ventilators, anaesthetic machines, infusion pumps, pacing devices, organ support and a plethora of monitoring modalities. All of these devices, once connected to a hospital network, present another opportunity for a malevolent party to access the hospital systems, either to gain PHI for financial, political or other gain or to attack the systems directly to cause erroneous monitoring, altered settings of any device and even to access the EMR via this IoMT window. This exponential increase in the IoMT and the increasing wireless connectivity of anaesthesia and ICU devices as well as implantable devices presents a real and present danger to patient safety. There has, at the same time, been a chronic underfunding of cybersecurity in healthcare. This lack of cybersecurity investment has left the sector exposed, and with the monetisation of PHI, the introduction of technically unsecure IoT devices for monitoring and direct patient care, the healthcare sector is presenting itself for further devastating cyberattacks or breaches of PHI. Coupled with the immense strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on healthcare and the changes in working patterns of many caregivers, this has further amplified the exposure of the sector to cyberattacks.Reference:
Cartwright AJ. The elephant in the room: cybersecurity in healthcare. J Clin Monit Comput. 2023 Apr 24. doi: 10.1007/s10877-023-01013-5. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37088852.