Security of medical devices is paramount

By Rich Nass

Executive Vice President

Embedded Computing Design

April 14, 2016

Security of medical devices is paramount

We cover five vertical industries here at Embedded Computing Design: industrial, consumer, automotive, military, and medical (note that IoT and securi...

We cover five vertical industries here at Embedded Computing Design: industrial, consumer, automotive, military, and medical (note that IoT and security are intertwined in all of those and aren’t considered vertical). While all but consumer typically have long design cycles, the one that jumps off the page in terms of really long design cycles is medical.

The reasons for the extra time has to do with a few things, such as the regulatory bodies that are often involved in the equation—your device likely has to be approved by the FDA, and that could take some time. A second reason for the extra time is the need for ultra-buttoned-down security.

If someone hacks into my Fitbit, oh well. If someone hacks into a piece of industrial machinery, it could result in a big dollar loss, depending on the specific application. But if a medical device gets hacked, you may be looking at a life-threatening situation. Manufacturers go to extremes to keep their devices safe, but as we know, the hackers are very good at staying abreast of the latest technologies.

To that end, I’ve been involved with organizing a conference that covers medical-device security called MEDSec, which is aimed at securing the Internet of medical things. The conference, which takes place May 23-24 in San Jose, Ca., is broken into four tracks: Policy, Standards, and Privacy; Medical Device Security and the Intersection of Safety and Security; Secure Medical Device System Design; and Ethical Hacking.

The speakers at the conference come from various industries, including electronics, medical, and regulatory. For example, a member of the FDA will deliver The FDA’s Perspective on Medical Device Cybersecurity. Blackberry’s Chief Security Officer will discuss The First Consensus Cybersecurity Standard for a Medical Device with Security and Assurance Requirements. That’s some pretty high-level stuff, information that’s just not readily available.

Intel’s General Manager will talk about Building Security into Medical Device Hardware, while Renesas’ Segment Lead for Healthcare will lead a discussion on Building a Robust Security Foundation for Your Medical Device.

You get the point. If you’re in the medical space, or even thinking about it, check out the program.

Rich Nass, Embedded Computing Brand Director

Richard Nass’ key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OSM’s ECD portfolio, including digital, print, and live events. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for Design News. Prior, he led the content team for UBM’s Medical Devices Group, and all custom properties and events. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 30 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times,, and TechOnLine. Nass holds a BSEE degree from NJIT.

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