80% of medtech firms suffered a cyber attack in the past five years

CAT scan machine with IoT markings in the foreground

Medical internet of things (IoT) devices promise great benefits, but companies working with them must tighten their cyber security, according to new research from Irdeto.

The security company surveyed senior executives at Fortune 1000-sized US-based companies working in the medical device sector to assess their cyber security stance.

Responses to the survey suggested a high level of confidence in medical IoT security among just one in five companies, with 18% believing their medical device security was strong. Slightly fewer (13%) believed they were well-prepared to mitigate future risks, while 18% weren’t prepared at all.

These responses correlated with the rate of reported security incidents. The survey found 80% of companies suffered at least one cyber attack in the past five years, with over two-thirds (67.5%) sustaining multiple attacks.

Poor cyber security is often linked to a lack of visibility, as you can’t manage what you can't see. Most companies (78%) found device inventory management problematic, often because of bureaucracy. Many failed to patch the devices they could see, warned the report. And if they did patch them, they used inefficient and possibly dangerous methods, such as passing patches around on USB keys.


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Most companies want to mitigate their medical device cyber security problems by turning to the cloud, with 48% advocating for this solution. This clashes with a separate Trend Micro survey that revealed significant cloud adoption challenges, including privacy and security concerns.

When assessing the importance of cyber security, companies concentrated heavily on compliance rather than the risk of business disruption or financial losses. Of the respondents, 80% cited regulatory requirements as a driving factor for cyber security, with just over two-thirds pointing to brand protection as an issue. Only 2.5% worried about ransomware or financial losses.

Understanding those regulations was not universal, with 40% saying they had a good handle on new cyber security rules. Another 45% said their cyber security knowledge was adequate. A worrying 15% claimed to have no knowledge of regulations at all. Some companies were escalating regulatory compliance to board level, while others called in their legal teams. Other companies working with medical devices focused on external help.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.