Internet of Things for Medical Devices – Part 2: Tomorrow

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Following on from part 1, in this instalment, we are going to get a bit more adventurous. I am going to discuss how the world might be when IoT-MD is taken for granted.

For the purposes of this article, IoT activated medical implants are commonplace. Just imagine it. It’s perfectly normal. A baby is born and is gifted with an implant which will track it’s health until its last breath. Now, we will touch on the 1984-ish aspect of this in a few moments. Before that, however, let’s appreciate the positives.

Positives

One’s health is constantly monitored. At the slightest indication of sickness, patients can be alerted to visit a doctor while the implant is already beaming the vitals to the doctor. A step further, the implant notices some mal-presence in the body’s cells and the implant can simply zap it away. It’s science fiction right now, but with the way the industry is growing, it may be real some day (soon).

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) still plagues infant mortality (Cdc.gov, 2016). SDS is a death due to unknown causes. IoT-MD could aid with monitoring vitals right before an infant (or indeed an adult) is about to die. These devices could alert healthcare professionals to try and remedy the patient before it is too late. In the case of an infant, where breathing issues are the leading cause of SDS, IoT-MD could definitely alert the parents / guardians of the fact that the infant is having trouble breathing.

Negatives

We are, after all, a security blog too. And wow, does this article set itself up nicely to talk about the security aspects of IoT-MD. The world I painted above seems great for healthcare. However, what are the implications for these devices? When a human life so directly depends on a device (say an implant), the stakes for security are higher than ever. Think for a moment about how much a bank likes its money and the efforts it goes to in order to prevent fraud on its funds.

These banks still get hacked. Will the IoT-MD industry enforce security regulations above and beyond the already stringent payment regulations (Pcisecuritystandards.org, 2016)? If they don’t we risk housing hackable devices in our very own physical being. And if someone had unfiltered access to this device, what could they do?

In a trivial example, if you were to just jam the networks around the device, the important data could never reach its target. The alerts will stop without people knowing. Right now, if I can’t connect to my Wi-Fi, I can’t send an email (or post on this blog). But, if my crucial application of IoT can’t connect to my Wi-Fi, what happens?

Aside from the obvious security implications, which will have to be addressed, what does this mean for:

  • General health – will there be radiation from these implants?
  • Privacy – what are the Orwellian society implications from a government accessing these devices?
  • Children – will it be okay to grow up in a world where parents can know their every move (and breath)?

Conclusion

The reality of this is that: it’s happening. Maybe not as I imagine it. However, if you read part 1 and now this article and don’t see the IoT-MD industry evolving something like this, I’d love to hear about it. Consumers will want this technology and governments will want a way in. The security and privacy implications of this are paramount. Stay tuned when next week we discuss how to be a wise consumer of IoT-MD.

Don’t think so? Let me know! That is what the comments section is for after all.

 

References

Cdc.gov. (2016). Infant Mortality | Maternal and Infant Health | Reproductive Health | CDC. [online] Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/infantmortality.htm [Accessed 27 Nov. 2016].

Pcisecuritystandards.org. (2016). Official PCI Security Standards Council Site – Verify PCI Compliance, Download Data Security and Credit Card Security Standards. [online] Available at: https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2016].

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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