Cyber Security challenges in the health care sector

Internet of Things (IoT) in the health care sector is on the rise with more physical devices being connected to the internet. However, the ongoing IoT excitement can lead to catastrophic consequences. DTU Professor advocates for raised awareness of cyber threats in the health domain.

By:  Hannah Østergaard Fog, Innovation and Communication, DTU, hosfo@dtu.dk.
Image: Medico Bazar 2018

The cyber threat in Denmark is very high. This is the statement coming from Centre for Cyber Security’s latest report on the Cyber threat against Denmark from 2019 – especially within the areas of cyberespionage and cybercrime. Cyberespionage involves foreign states trying to steal research data and is targeted different societal sectors, such as the health domain. Cybercriminal attacks, however, can have severe consequences and lead to personal injuries. 

Professor in Secure Pervasive Computing at Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Nicola Dragoni, is one of the people who take these threats very seriously. 

- It’s not an exaggeration to talk about a security and privacy disaster. Indeed, Cyber Security is one of the biggest challenges in the IoT domain, as well as one of its most embarrassing failures.

A security culture
According to Professor Dragoni, solving the problem is not an easy task. One of the reasons is that many users are unaware of security issues and can easily be deceived by simple attacks. Users represent the weakest link in the security chain – which can have severe consequences in the health domain.

If a hospital database gets hacked, it can lead to exposure of sensitive data to malicious actors who can force the hospital to pay large amounts of money in the hope to have all data back. Another horrific example is an attacker remotely controlling a medical device, such as a pacemaker or an insulin pump. In these cases, a hacker could potentially harm another human being.

To combat cyber threats, Professor Nicola Dragoni argues that we need to build a security culture. To do so, it is crucial to consider several dimensions; technical, societal and legislative – as well as raise awareness among policy makers, stakeholders and patients about the importance of Cyber Security issues. Because, as Nicola Dragoni concludes:

- We all need to act, and to act now, if we don’t want to end up in a cybersecurity nightmare.

Take part in the discussion

Professor Nicola Dragonis should have given his view on how we build a cybersecurity culture in the healthcare industry at Medico Bazar 2020.

Unfortunately, Medico Bazar was postponed due to COVID-19, but a new date will soon be announced. Follow this page for updates.


Hannah Østergaard Fog

Innovation og communication

Technical University of Denmark

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Welfare Tech is​ co-financed by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science and The European Regional Development Fund.

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