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David Phillips / AP

Sapient Health's David Nickelson explains how the recent global cyber ransomware attack on hospital IT systems "is just the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to hacking opportunities in the health care industry, per the Harvard Business Review. Nickelson argues that cyber attacks on implanted or wearable medical devices are a much more serious threat.

The takeaways:

  • "Researchers in Belgium and the U.K. have demonstrated that it's possible to transmit life-threatening (if not fatal) signals to implanted medical devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, and insulin pumps."
  • The electronic medical device market is estimated to hit $398 billion this year alone, but hospital IT networks "remain slow to address longstanding cybersecurity challenges that raise both privacy and potentially fatal health concerns."
  • Another red flag: older devices manufactured prior to 2014 — when the FDA issued its guidance — that aren't equipped with the updated software.

Nickelson's advice for reducing cyber risks:

  • "Asses device cybersecurity during procurement"; "Require basic cyber hygiene"; "Proactively access risks and patch vulnerabilities"; and "Stay alert and informed."
  • Start imposing penalties for noncompliance so that more attention is given to cybersecurity.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
4 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.