Securing Connected IoMT Devices

By Loren Shade

Vice President of Marketing

Allegro Software

September 06, 2023


Securing Connected IoMT Devices
Image Credit: Allegro

This article will explore IoMT device security and connectivity and how device manufacturers are looking at connectivity for their IoMT or Internet of medical things devices.

The security of medical devices in the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) industry has become a major concern for device manufacturers. IoMT device manufacturers look for flexible connectivity between IoMT devices, gateways, cloud architectures, and hybrid clouds. This flexibility is crucial as it enables secure access to the data generated by these devices and secure transport of that data.

The value of IoMT devices lies in this data generation, its ability to remain secure and private, and the insights and actions that can be taken from that data. Thus, manufacturers are focusing on developing architectures that work in different environments, whether it's a cloud, hybrid cloud, or on-premise environment, to ensure secure connectivity for these IoMT devices.

Ensuring Secure Connectivity through Open Standards and IoMT Protocols 

When it comes to IoMT device connectivity, it is important to leverage open standards-based protocols. The use of XML for data interchange has become the de facto standard, particularly in enterprise environments, for exchanging data between devices. To secure these protocols, several technologies such as TLS or DTLS tunnels and, in some cases, SSH, are utilized. Medical devices often rely on web services for connectivity, with a shift from older SOAP models to more modern REST APIs and increasingly, JSON APIs. These protocols and technologies play a crucial role in ensuring secure and efficient connectivity for IoMT devices.

Medical Device IoT Connectivity Examples & The Importance of Secure Connectivity 

IoMT devices play a critical role in capturing and transmitting patient-related data to help healthcare organizations make proactive decisions. An example of this is a solution that required FIPS-validated cryptography, where an IoMT device captures patient data and communicates it to a machine that assesses the likelihood of bedsores and suggests proactive measures to prevent them.

Another IoMT device is a medication cart that helps dispense and track non-controlled and controlled medications. The data is scanned into a medical administration record, and the correct medication, in the required amount, is dispensed from the device. This data is then transmitted to a larger gateway within the healthcare organization (HDO) or enterprise and from there to the pharmacy or other areas of the organization as needed.

A hospital bed is an IoMT device that communicates with the larger IoMT or HDO enterprise. The device collects and transmits patient and bed-specific details, like their weight or if the bed rails are up or down, which is encrypted and transmitted back to a gateway to be communicated to different third-party avenues within the organization. The devices can communicate with the gateway using JSON over TLS connections or through an application or a web interface.

From the manufacturer's perspective, collecting specific data or operational characteristics about deployed devices in the field is important. This information can be communicated to the cloud and then back to the manufacturer for advanced analytics and product updates. The overall ecosystem provides valuable data and insights, not just for the HDO and device manufacturer but, more importantly, for the patients, making secure connectivity a critical aspect of the IoMT.

Unique Connectivity Requirements for IoMT Devices 

The security of IoMT devices is of utmost importance and requires specific technical controls and cryptography to be implemented. Cryptography plays a crucial role in these applications. Given the resource constraints in IoMT environments, it is essential to have the flexibility, control, and configurability to secure these devices effectively.

Allegro’s ACE Cryptography module provides these capabilities while also being pre-integrated in a complete suite of connectivity and security toolkits that can help device manufacturers meet security requirements in their overall network and designs. This cryptography library has been validated by the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support standards-based security features like authentication, encryption, and key management in an efficient way.

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Allegro Software’s VP of Marketing, Loren Shade, has been involved in the embedded industry for over 25 years. He has worked with numerous industrial, military, and commercial clients to integrate and adopt networking and connectivity into their embedded products.

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