Healthcare industry continues to struggle with software security

67% of medical device manufacturers and 56% of healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) believe an attack on a medical device built or in use by their organizations is likely to occur over the next 12 months.

healthcare industry software security

According to the results of a recent survey, roughly one third of device makers and HDOs are aware of potential adverse effects to patients due to an insecure medical device, but despite the risk only 17 percent of device makers and 15 percent of HDOs are taking significant steps to prevent such attacks.

The study was conducted by the Ponemon Institute, and focused on the North America market. The study surveyed approximately 550 individuals from manufacturers and HDOs, whose roles involve the security of medical devices, including implantable devices, radiation equipment, diagnostic and monitoring equipment, robots, as well as networking equipment designed specifically for medical devices and mobile medical apps.

Other key findings from the study highlight:

  • Building secure devices is challenging. 80 percent of device makers and HDOs report that medical devices are very difficult to secure. The top reasons cited for why devices remain vulnerable include accidental coding errors, lack of knowledge/training on secure coding practices and pressure on development teams to meet product deadlines.
  • Lack of security testing. Only 9 percent of manufacturers and 5 percent of HDOs say they test medical devices at least once a year, while 53 percent of HDOs and 43 percent of manufacturers do not test devices at all.
  • Lack of accountability. While 41 percent of HDOs believe they are primarily responsible for the security of medical devices, almost one-third of both device makers and HDOs say no one person or function in their organizations is primarily responsible.
  • FDA guidance is not enough. Only 51 percent of device makers and 44 percent of HDOs follow current FDA guidance to mitigate or reduce inherent security risks in medical devices.

“These findings underscore the cybersecurity gaps that the healthcare industry desperately needs to address to safeguard the well-being of patients in an increasingly connected and software-driven world,” said Mike Ahmadi, global director of critical systems security for Synopsys’ Software Integrity Group.

“The industry needs to undergo a fundamental shift, building security into the software development lifecycle and across the software supply chain to ensure medical devices are not only safe, but also secure.”