“Gartner Listed - mobile application security guide”

September 9, 2016

IoT in healthcare

The increased demand for connected technology in the healthcare industry has resulted in the popularity of IoT devices and a need for adjusting HIPAA mobile app security testing standards to accommodate the risks involved.

The Internet of Things has offered a range of benefits to the healthcare industry, such as close monitoring of patients with the help of data analytics, monitoring vital signs of patients, or collecting sensitive data elements during patient care. This may have resulted in better availability and quality of healthcare services, but, at the same time it has allowed malicious users to steal sensitive patient data with more ease and accessibility.

For IT executives at healthcare establishments, managing the security aspect of IoT devices is potentially one of the most important issues. Such devices can be used by tech devotees within the healthcare facility and at home with little or no security controls. This is what the hackers look for, and that is where they easily exploit the vulnerabilities.

There are few tools in the marketplace to secure IoT devices against cyber criminals. IoT also suffers from the same problems as mobile app security, with minimal oversight, risk management, and processes for baking in security combined with the need for frequent release cycles.

The low standards of IoT devices was highlighted this week when St Jude Medical Inc. had its stock shorted after a cybersecurity firm showed evidence of vulnerabilities to a hedge fund.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, by the year 2025, 30.3% of IoT device usage will be in the healthcare industry; applying to portable monitors, drug safeguards and electronic recordkeeping. IT security may be an afterthought for many industries, but healthcare comes under strict guidelines to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule. Protecting patient data, restricting access, updating antivirus and installing patches and security updates may reduce risks to some extent, but the facts show that this is not all that needs to be done. According to Netiq’s Cyberthreat Defense Report last year, 74% of healthcare organizations do not encrypt data on their mobiles, whereas 35% of breaches took place by stealing non encrypted devices.

When developing healthcare apps, developers need to ensure that they are fully compliant with HIPAA app security standards. Since mobile malware is the weakest link that results in data breach, applying HIPAA mobile app security testing best practices to mobile application development can help applications counter such threats. Similarly, all other IoT devices that store, manage, or transmit patient Protected Health Information (PHI) need to be HIPAA compliant by including HIPAA app security features and mobile app security testing.

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