AT&T report urges security considerations for healthcare edge applications

AT&T report urges security considerations for healthcare edge applications

An industry report from AT&T covering the healthcare industry’s adoption of edge computing suggests addressing security concerns as the primary focus of the field as it inches towards telemedicine and autonomous robots and drones in hospitals.

The ‘Focus on Healthcare’ report is a narrower examination of the healthcare industry as part of the ‘2022 AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Securing the Edge’ report published earlier in February. With healthcare taking steps to 5G and edge computing adoption that can offer advances in how medicine is performed, AT&T also mentions vulnerabilities like ransomware that imperils the functioning of a hospital and places protected health information at risk of exposure.

With specific threats facing healthcare compared to other industries, AT&T says the survey shows expected results like consumer virtual care for remote and secure medical consultation via video, mobile, cloud, and IoT technologies as the top use case in the mature stage for healthcare. Overall, the healthcare industry was the second lowest in the mature stage category, but the second highest ranking in the mid-stage category. This indicates a great deal of incoming activity in edge computing, AT&T says, as healthcare practitioners take their steps into edge computing strategies.

Already, 74 percent of healthcare respondents globally say they are planning, have partially, or have fully implemented an edge use case. The same respondents say that intrusion and threat detection, multi-factor authentication, data encryption at rest, and endpoint and device monitoring are the most efficient and effective security controls at their disposal.

Though security is the paramount issue, AT&T says there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for the healthcare industry in regards to edge computing. AT&T notes varying levels of edge adoption, and cites a prevalence of low-power CPUs that can’t run adequate security controls at the edge. It also notes a relatively low current or planned use of patching that requires greater awareness of patching healthcare edge computing systems.

AT&T lists a number of recommendations to the healthcare industry to facilitate its edge computing transition. Steps to take include:

  • Communication and education with stakeholders.
  • Cross-functionality with IT, legal, and healthcare practitioners.
  • Emphasizing the importance of security by design.
  • Discussing the pros and cons of public and private 5G cellular, legacy cellular, and other networking technologies.

Other issues that organizations need to explore include securing remote office/branch offices, IaaS/PaaS/SaaS cloud environments, industrial IoT/OT systems, and consumer IoT environments (such as medical wearables), among many other points.

It concludes by mentioning the acceleration of healthcare edge computing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AT&T says with the acceptance of edge data processing that lowers latency, it will enable telemedicine and autonomous drones and robots in hospitals. “Improved quality of life and saved lives will be the headlines of future history books that describe this era of healthcare technology innovations,” the report says.

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