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COVID-19 AND THE STATE OF WIRELESS SECURITY IN HEALTHCARE FACILITIES

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed some of the priorities for hospital IT teams: the capabilities that have been considered “not critical” before, are gaining more attention now. One such example is the capability to remotely control devices such as infusion or syringe pumps, with the main motivation being to minimize the contact between the medical staff and the COVID-19 patients (critical COVID-19 patients on average are connected to 3 pumps). The interesting part is that such capabilities have been offered by medical device manufacturers for years, however, it appears that the IT teams simply did not feel confident enough with the state of wireless security to adopt such features. The main risk being someone maliciously overtake a wireless (e.g. WiFi) link to take control of the such pump remotely and put the patient’s life in danger. With stakes that high, their lack of willingness in adopting these “advanced” features can be understood. 

These days, however, more and more hospitals are looking to adopt such capabilities. This time though, the IT teams are willing to “take the risk” since once the theoretical chance of a malicious attack is measured against the probable medical team infection, then the decision that minimizes risk is to adopt those wireless remote capabilities and protect the medical staff. I believe that this movement will continue to gain more attention in the near future. COVID-19 has exposed one of the sensitive and sad truths of the state of wireless security: the lack of trust in wireless links has prevented adoption in critical use cases such as those in hospitals – those that, ironically, need the advantages and convenience of wireless technology the most. That is where LEVL can help the industry: by adding trust to wireless links in healthcare environments. LEVL’s offering is the perfect fit for these cases specially as our passive approach to device identity management can support the large number of legacy devices that are in use by hospitals (the average age of a pump in a hospital, believe it or not, is about 15 years), while our full-stack security approach mitigates any attack whether on the digital or on physical layer. In fact, LEVL’s platform  is the first of its kind that guarantees a well trusted 1-on-1 communication between any 2 wireless devices, securing both the medical devices from connecting to malicious APs, or from malicious devices connecting to hospitals AP.

Maybe it needed a worldwide pandemic to start a revolution in the adoption of wireless technologies for healthcare critical infrastructure, but one thing is sure, for this revolution to succeed, the security and safety shall be put at the top of priority list. This provides the perfect opportunity for wireless security companies in years to come.

About Author

Daniel Zahavi

Daniel has made a career of innovating wireless cyber security technologies in very high-threat environments. He is now applying that experience to the commercial market.