Medical devices, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, are vulnerable to cyberattacks if they are not given regular security updates.
Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, released a paper proving the relative ease of exploiting medical technology which uses out-of-date security software.
This research highlights a potential gap in the cyber security of hospital equipment. There are currently strict regulations which make it difficult to conduct basic updates on medical computers, and installing anti-virus software is not sufficient to prevent cybercrime.
The researchers discovered that while most medical devices have a security weak spot, CT scanners proved to be at the greatest risk of an attack due to their role in acute care imaging.
Successful hackers could block access to medical imaging devices which could have severe consequences for patients in need of quick diagnosis and treatment. The researchers provided the potentially fatal example of hackers adding or removing a dangerous tumour to an image which could then lead to medical mistakes.
Security experts also fear cyber criminals could disable devices altogether and use this a bargaining method during ransom attacks.