Viruses are Rampant in Hospitals
You may think that hospitals are the last place you'd go to find viruses. If you're looking for computer viruses however it seems they're rampant, as more and more devices are used within hospitals. This increase in computerized hospital equipment is making hospitals vulnerable, as malware runs wild, clogging up patient-monitoring equipment and other software systems.
That's the finding of a recent government panel on security in medical equipment. Whilst thus far no injuries have resulted from infected IT equipment, instances of infected devices are rapidly rising across the nation.
The problem is, as you can imagine, a complicated one. Software-controlled medical equipment has become increasingly interconnected in recent years, and many systems run on variants of Windows, a common target for hackers elsewhere. The devices are usually connected to an internal network that is itself connected to the Internet.
A major problem is that many manufacturers are forbidding hospitals from upgrading their systems, even to include basic virus protection software. This is leaving many hospitals using legacy systems, such as out of date versions of Microsoft Windows because of fears that modifying those systems might run foul of FDA regulations.
The result, as you might expect, is that hospital computers are often infected with malware, with several each week having to be removed from the system each week in order to be cleaned.
"I find this mind-boggling," says Kevin Fu, a leading expert on medical-device security and a computer scientist at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who took part in the panel discussion. "Conventional malware is rampant in hospitals because of medical devices using unpatched operating systems. There's little recourse for hospitals when a manufacturer refuses to allow OS updates or security patches." he continues.Continued on the next page