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Medical IT infrastructure security

12 February, 2014
ForeScout reviews the task of ensuring the IT infrastructure in medical facilities is secured in its entirety including connected instruments and devices.

IT networks in hospitals, clinics and surgeries have some special characteristics that differentiate them from commercial networks with patient safety and confidentiality being at the top of the list of critical factors that network managers have to consider in ensuring the IT infrastructure is secure and reliable.

To provide more of an insight into how this can be achieved, Travis Funkhouser of network security specialist, ForeScout, has posted a blog on the company's site examining the limitations faced by IT support personnel and what they need to consider in order to improve the security position of the health facility under their control.

The healthcare industry is similar in some respects to other industries that have critical equipment which is computer-controlled and is becoming increasingly connected within the overall networked computer environment. Whilst these pieces of equipment were once considered separate and distinguishable from the IT environment, they are now very much an integrated part of it, a device or end-point like any other.

However, whilst they now form part of the general IT domain, there are often problems faced by the IT administrator due to industry regulations covering their construction and maintenance and the fact that they invariably run proprietary software and operating systems rendering them inaccessible to the IT team.

In the two blogs written on this subject by Travis, healthcare IT specialists can find out what steps should be taken to assess what needs to be done to improve security and how automated security platforms can be used to achieve that without having to delve into the workings of every machine that's connected to the network.

Part 1 of Travis' blog is: Securing Network Enabled Medical Devices and part 2 can be accessed here

Jonathan Newell is a broadcast and technical journalist specialising in security systems and transport safety. He contributes to a range of titles in the technical press. He shares his time between the UK and Kazakhstan

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