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Title: Towards Strengthening the Security of Healthcare Devices using Secure Configuration Provenance
In modern healthcare, smart medical devices are used to ensure better and informed patient care. Such devices have the capability to connect to and communicate with the hospital's network or a mobile application over wi-fi or Bluetooth, allowing doctors to remotely configure them, exchange data, or update the firmware. For example, Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices (CIED), more commonly known as Pacemakers, are increasingly becoming smarter, connected to the cloud or healthcare information systems, and capable of being programmed remotely. Healthcare providers can upload new configurations to such devices to change the treatment. Such configurations are often exchanged, reused, and/or modified to match the patient's specific health scenario. Such capabilities, unfortunately, come at a price. Malicious entities can provide a faulty configuration to such devices, leading to the patient's death. Any update to the state or configuration of such devices must be thoroughly vetted before applying them to the device. In case of any adverse events, we must also be able to trace the lineage and propagation of the faulty configuration to determine the cause and liability issues. In a highly distributed environment such as today's hospitals, ensuring the integrity of configurations and security policies is difficult and often requires a complex setup. As configurations propagate, traditional access control and authentication of the healthcare provider applying the configuration is not enough to prevent installation of malicious configurations. In this paper, we argue that a provenance-based approach can provide an effective solution towards hardening the security of such medical devices. In this approach, devices would maintain a verifiable provenance chain that would allow assessing not just the current state, but also the past history of the configuration of the device. Also, any configuration update would be accompanied by its own secure provenance chain, allowing verification of the origin and lineage of the configuration. The ability to protect and verify the provenance of devices and configurations would lead to better patient care, prevent malfunction of the device due to malicious configurations, and allow after-the-fact investigation of device configuration issues. In this paper, we advocate the benefits of such an approach and sketch the requirements, implementation challenges, and deployment strategies for such a provenance-based system.  more » « less
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2022 IEEE International Conference on Digital Health (ICDH)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
228 to 233
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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