Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Homeland Security Issues Warning of GE Medical Device Flaw


One of my very worst fears is the hacking of healthcare devices.  It’s not just because I happen to be IN healthcare mind you; it’s that lives potentially hang in the balance.  A couple of years ago, back in 2017 there was a virus or worm that was unleashed on Ukraine called NotPetya.  This malicious piece of software suddenly began replicating and spread across Europe.  It caused massive destruction including wreaking havoc on the British healthcare system.  I’ve never seen any evidence, but there could very well have been some deaths due to the effects of this thing in hospitals in the UK.

However, even before the nightmare of NotPetya I have had concerns about nefarious parties hacking into medical devices and either turning them off or changing critical parameters.  Now comes word from the Department of Homeland Security that a vulnerability exists in the following GE Aestiva and Aespire Anesthesia Machines:
  • GE Aestiva  and Aespire Versions 7100
  • GE Aestiva  and Aespire Versions 7900

Here is part of the notice from DHS:

A vulnerability exists where serial devices are connected via an added unsecured terminal server to a TCP/IP network configuration, which could allow an attacker to remotely modify device configuration and silence alarms.
GE Healthcare recommends organizations use secure terminal servers when connecting GE Healthcare anesthesia device serial ports to TCP/IP networks. Secure terminal servers provide robust security features, including strong encryption, VPN, authentication of users, network controls, logging, audit capability, and secure device configuration and management options.
GE Healthcare recommends that organizations utilize best practices for terminal servers that include governance, management, and secure deployment measures such as network segmentation, VLANs, and device isolation to enhance existing security measures.
GE Healthcare plans to provide updates and additional security information about this vulnerability for affected users at the following location:
NCCIC recommends users take defensive measures to minimize the risk of exploitation of this vulnerability. Specifically, users should:
Minimize network exposure for all medical devices and/or systems.
Locate medical devices behind firewalls and isolate them where possible.
Restrict system access to authorized personnel only and follow a least privilege approach.
Apply defense-in-depth strategies.
Disable any unnecessary accounts, protocols and services.
Where additional information is needed, refer to existing cybersecurity in medical device guidance issued by the FDA at the following location:
NCCIC reminds organizations to perform proper impact analysis and risk assessment prior to deploying defensive measures.
NCCIC also provides a section for control systems security recommended practices on the ICS-CERT web page. Several recommended practices are available for reading and download, including Improving Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity with Defense-in-Depth Strategies.
Additional mitigation guidance and recommended practices are publicly available on the ICS-CERT website in the Technical Information Paper, ICS-TIP-12-146-01B--Targeted Cyber Intrusion Detection and Mitigation Strategies.
Organizations observing any suspected malicious activity should follow their established internal procedures and report their findings to NCCIC for tracking and correlation against other incidents.
No known public exploits specifically target this vulnerability.

The good news is the last line above.  No known public exploits have yet been discovered.  However, I’m afraid this is a situation we’ll be seeing more of in the future.  For the full rundown on this exploit, follow this link.

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