Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Computer viruses and malware in medical technology
Today's piece of troubling news: High-risk medical technology has been found to be infected by computer viruses and malware. Virus infections (and we are not even referring to the ones in the patients' bodies, but to the ones in the systems used to support the patient's lives) could become so severe that a patient may end up getting harmed. At least one hospital in the United States claims to be deleting viruses from up to two machines a week.
The warnings were given as part of a panel discussion in Washington DC, by Technology Review from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mark Olsen, chief information security officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said the hospital had 664 pieces of medical equipment running on old versions of Windows. The explanation given was that the machines were not updated to newer versions of Windows where the vulnerabilities are patched because of fears that doing so would mean they were in breach of regulations put in place by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It seems like the FDA is busy regulating the treatment of human viruses but unprepared to handle cyber infections.