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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Constant Vigilance

Wirelessly connected medical devices for monitoring and treating a wide range of illnesses are proliferating. Currently, about 450,000 programmable cardiac pacemakers are implanted in patients, and devices for monitoring and treating conditions including diabetes and sleep apnea are rapidly entering the market (1).

While such network-connected devices have the power to transform patient care by enabling real time monitoring and treatment adjustment, they also present new cybersecurity risks. These range from general malware threats that affect all kinds of computers, routers and smart devices to specifically targeting medical devices to access healthcare computer networks or to hijack the devices themselves.

All of these cybersecurity threats could lead to patient injury or death by disrupting device function, whether intentionally or not. They also may inflict financial damage on product sponsors, prescribing providers and patient users in several ways. To compound the problem, cybersecurity threats constantly change, challenging sponsors and users to keep up with new and ever more sophisticated attacks.

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Tony Clarke is Head of Information Security at ICON. Over the last 17 years, he has provided security services to numerous organisations across a number of industries,including life sciences, financial services, utilities, government bodies and EU agencies. Tony holds an MSc in security and forensic computing and numerous cybersecurity certifications. He is currently the open web application security project Dublin Chapter lead. Tony has presented at many security conferences and lectures in ethical hacking on the Dublin Institute of Technology MSc programme.


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