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Experts Assess Cyber Security Threats in Medical Technology

As the number of patients using medical devices – worn or implanted – exponentially grows, to what extent is their privacy or safety at risk from hackers? And, how are medical technology manufacturers, security software developers and regulators like the FDA addressing this issue of data breaches? Given the growing prominence of medical technology delivery systems for pharmaceuticals and biologics, this issue is growing more important across patient communities.

At a recent conference convened by the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMEDIC) at the Microsoft Northeast R&D Center (see video above), these and related issues were discussed via presentations and a series of panel sessions moderated by experts from MSLGROUP, Philips Healthcare, and MedAcuity Software.  Presenters and panel participants included officials from the FDA, Battelle, Draper Labs, MathWorks and Boston Scientific.

For the mainstream audience, several notable themes emerged:

  • Development of new medical technology and security software is racing to outpace hackers’ sophistication. One challenge is security updates for older medical devices – especially those implanted in patients
  • Regulators at the FDA are fully engaged with medical industry technology experts who are united behind this issue in developing and institutionalizing effective policy that can address the challenges of today and quickly evolve as needed
  • How do vendors engage very real data-security risks with appropriate transparency without provoking unwarranted fear in patients? If it isn’t transparent enough now, how much longer can it remain under the radar – given how pervasive data-breach stories have become in mainstream media coverage as well as popular television programming that deals with the topic such as Robot and CSI Cyber? Consumer education seems to be the key to reinforcing data security without causing panic.

For healthcare stakeholders, these issues challenge safety, privacy and reputation. Award-winning Reuters data security reporter Jim Finkle filed a video report on what the experts had to say at the conference

If you work in the medical technology or biopharmaceutical sectors and want to discuss communications challenges and issues related to cyber security in healthcare, contact MSLGROUP executive vice president Jim Weinrebe at 781-684-6650, or email



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