In the hospital, connected objects are everywhere. On average, a patient’s room would contain six. A resuscitation room, a dozen. For the past five years, hi-tech has spread to all departments for better patient care.
But there is a flip side to the coin: connected objects would be cybervulnerable. A pacemaker, for example, uses wireless communication technology that has security vulnerabilities. In theory, a hacker could easily take control. Reality or fiction? According to a specialist interviewed by “Further investigation”, “we are closer to reality than to fiction ”.
When a whistleblower puts himself in the shoes of a hacker …
To demonstrate this, the magazine turned to a whistleblower. Near Clermont-Ferrand, Charles Blanc Rolin manages the IT security of six establishments. And he would like the hospital services, but also the authorities, to realize the danger. So he put himself in the shoes of a hacker … and took control of a machine – in this case, a surveillance monitor.
All hospital rooms contain one, connected to another in the nurses’ ward. An essential device for viewing vital signs such as heart rate at a glance. With the help of two of these monitors, Charles Blanc Rolin shows how easy it is to “make the doctor think that the patient is fine when he is not, or vice versa”.
… to show the vulnerability of certain devices
After turning off the first monitor, it simply sends the second … false values (eg a heart rate of 160 beats per minute instead of 50). “Someone with malicious intent who manages to enter the hospital network, physically or remotely through a compromised workstation, could carry out the same type of attack”, he asserts.
Because of vulnerable devices, would a hacker have the right to life or death over the patient? In any case, devices that present this type of vulnerability, the whistleblower claims to have seen in service recently in some hospitals …
Extract from “Hackers: the new robbers”, a document to see in “Further investigation” on January 28, 2021.
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