Hacking of medical devices could become a big threat in 2016

(Cyberwar.news) One of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the coming year will be hackers who are using ransomware – a type of malware in which hackers can steal or delete the contents of users’ computers if they don’t pay a ransom – to target medical devices, Popular Science reported in online editions.

Ransomware has been in use for 25 years, but according to a recent report from research and advisory firm Forrester, the threat against Internet-dependent medical devices is expected to ramp up significantly next year.

For the moment, there are no documented cases of hackers that have held a user for ransom via his or her medical device. But experts understand that as more of the devices come online – including everything from pacemakers to surgical robots – many will lack sufficient digital protection.

In a recent story at Bloomberg Business, experts said they believe security for online medical devices is about 10 years behind overall cyber standards. And, as PopSci noted, earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to hospitals warming them that their equipment, as well as patient devices like medical IV pumps used to ration out drugs, may be vulnerable to cyber attack.

Cyber threats to medical devices is becoming more common knowledge, but thus far regulatory agencies and cyber security firms have not paid much attention to them because there has been no indication a hacker could benefit from attacking them.

However, as more insurance companies find themselves being scrutinized, PopSci reported, it is “clear that hackers have set their sights on the healthcare industry.” Add to that the prospect of ransom and the threat begins to feel much more real and personal. Plus, as the FBI has noted, such ransoms are not cheap; they can range from $200 to about $10,000.

Between April 2014 and June 2015, hackers’ extortions via personal computers cost American victims $18 million, PopSci reported.

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