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Your duty when it comes to IoT security

Posted by Earl Laing | Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What's all this hype around assisted living and the Internet of Things about? The use of this technology in day-to-day operations around your community can greatly enhance mundane processes, there's no questioning that. However, you have to take a step back and look at the potential dangers of devices that are connected to such a vast network, even if they claim to be secure. 

ABI Research predicted that by the year 2020, roughly 40.9 billion wireless devices will be connected to the network that is the Internet of Things. That being said, it's not hard to imagine why that place has become a major target for cybercrime. Think about everything you store or control via that network. You undoubtedly have information ranging from the settings that control the temperature in your building down to the personal details of your patients and staff members alike. Building manager's concerns should surround personal privacy and cybersecurity as they're the two greatest risks you face connecting your system to the IoT network. 

Personal privacy

Understand that while assisted living communities are using connected devices to monitor seniors for better quality of life, those same devices have seniors on technological lock-down. Wired Magazine points out that when entering an assisted living community, seniors have to accept that the IoT can be used to track their every move. Yes, these predictive analytics could potentially save lives, however that also means staff members have data on things as trivial as the time a resident turned a light off to go to bed. These methods of constant surveillance can be a rather unsettling concept for any senior.

The health care industry is increasingly becoming a hot spot for attacks. The Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield cyber attack on the personal records of millions of customers is one example that weighs heavily on the mind of everyone. This major insurer had names, birthdays, medical identification, social security numbers, even home addresses, all stolen from them in a single hacking. Assisted living software that houses information of this nature is a big vulnerability that every building manager needs to be aware of. No matter the size of your community, everyone is at risk.  

Technology security

You might be surprised by the types of devices that hackers can break into. Internet-connected insulin pumps or facilities management software both risk being attacked. While the hope is that no one would ever want to tamper with these devices maliciously, there has been research that has proved this could become a reality. In past experiments, researchers have been able to break into devices like pacemakers and then deliver what would be a deadly electric shock that could be used to commit mass murder, reported IT News. 

Is there an easy building management solution?

One thing is clear - while this technology is incredibly helpful and revolutionizing the way this industry is run, it also needs to be watched very closely. Diane Hosson, STANLEY Health care senior director of security solution spoke with Senior Housing News on the matter of government regulation. While she believes security should start at the hand of the provider, she believes that it's inevitable that the government will need to get involved with overseeing the IoT.

"But what I think is important is helping the health care providers to understand at a bare minimum what they need from their vendors to provide a very protected system," said Hosson. 

However, while waiting for better government legislation, facilities need to be vigilant with maintaining updates to ensure both compliance and safety. While you should be choosey when it comes to security providers, you also need to work internally to create policies for the safest environment possible as well.