Endpoint Security , Governance & Risk Management , Internet of Things Security

The Challenges in Keeping Medical Device Software Updated

David Brumley, CEO of ForAllSecure, on Addressing Top Device Cyber Risks
The Challenges in Keeping Medical Device Software Updated
David Brumley, CEO of ForAllSecure, professor Carnegie Mellon University

Updating software as new vulnerabilities are discovered persistently remains a top cybersecurity challenge involving medical devices, said David Brumley, a cybersecurity professor at Carnegie Mellon University and CEO of security firm ForAllSecure. Solving this stubborn problem requires a major mindset shift, he said.

"The biggest thing that I think that we can hope for is increasing the cadence of updates," he said. "The legacy, traditional approach - and this is only a few years ago - was when you built a medical device, you got it certified, and it stayed that way forever," he said. "We know that's not really how things work anymore."

The important challenge for manufacturers and healthcare delivery organizations to overcome is making updates available and applying them to devices as quickly as possible as new vulnerabilities are detected and other new issues in software emerge, he said.

"You can't predict all the different things that are going to happen" in terms of the vulnerabilities that might get discovered. "What we can predict is the need to rapidly iterate and to get those out to customers. So it's a culture shift."

In this audio interview with Information Security Media Group (see audio link below photo), Brumley also discussed:

  • The Food and Drug Administration's enhanced authority over medical device cybersecurity and what the agency needs to do next;
  • Security concerns in remote patient monitoring involving medical devices and consumer-oriented wearable health devices;
  • Privacy and security issues involving AI and machine learning-enabled medical devices.

Brumley is a tenured professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and the director of the CyLab Security & Privacy Institute. He has more than 20 years of cybersecurity experience in academia and practice.

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