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Faculty of
Health Sciences

BGU dean says computerized medical systems vulnerable to hacking attacks - By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH

Dec. 07, 2016
Advanced medical equipment can be lifesaving, but they are also exposed to cyber attacks that can endanger patients, Prof. Amos Katz, a senior cardiologist and dean of Ben-Gurion University’s Health Sciences Faculty said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at Israel’s first workshop on cyber security in the future medical world, sponsored by the Soroka- University Medical Center and the CyberSpark company.
It included specialists in the health industry and cyber security, as well as people in the field of regulation, researchers and investors. Israel Medical Association chairman Dr.Leonid Eidelman, Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich and Rambam Medical Center director Prof. Rafael Beyar were among the participants.

Katz warned that, even today, electronic wireless devices used by cardiologists can be manipulated by hackers.

These can also be used to locate patients and collect information about them and their surroundings. The equipment includes pacemakers and devices for monitoring the heart and even transmitting data to doctors. Devices used to balance insulin/sugar levels can also be tampered with today, he said.

Not long ago, former US vice president Richard Cheney, who uses a pacemaker for his heart problems, said he learned that various individuals had tried to “break into” it.

Soroka director Dr. Ehud Davidson said that patients’ health and quality of life are improved by many computerized and information systems while trying to ensure privacy.

Davidson said that his hospital already offers various advanced services, such as an SMS to patients’ smartphones in the emergency room; realtime computerized medical files that can monitor treatment for pain; risks of the formation of deep-vein thrombosis; supervision of administering antibiotics; and making sure that elderly patients who fracture a hip are operated on within 48 hours.
The lecturers also discussed the risk of computer systems crashing and endangering patients, as well as external threats on information systems that can modify data.