Why is Network Monitoring Important in a Clinical Setting

As Internet of Medical Things devices continue to grow in variety and quantity, their ability to save lives and collect data poses an escalating challenge: how to keep tabs on what’s happening with each one and determine whether any of their individual behaviors indicates a security threat.

The practice requires that healthcare systems use these intuitive yet vulnerable tools to conduct robust network monitoring to help identify abnormalities before they develop or spread.

Protecting a Wi-Fi enabled heart monitor or insulin pump, after all, requires a different approach than protecting a smartphone or laptop, as those latter tools are designed with built-in risk prevention to deter viruses and unauthorized users. And some legacy monitoring systems don’t have the aptitude to properly track the latest devices.

With a 3:1 ratio of devices to people in a healthcare setting, organizations must make network monitoring a priority to ensure patient safety and continuity of care, says Bryan McDowell, a vice president and CISO at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

“You can’t place a ton of controls on medical devices,” McDowell says. “Standard anti-virus software does not run on most of them. So, it’s important to protect everything on the perimeter, to have tight controls internally and maintain network segmentation — but you also have to have to place a high emphasis on monitoring.”

Eighty-seven percent of healthcare organizations will use IoT devices in some form this year, a 2018 Aruba Networks report found. But among those already doing so last year, 89 percent reported suffering an IoT-related security breach.

Likewise, a 2018 IDG report found that 69 percent of network professionals cited balancing network availability and security as their greatest challenge.