Researchers create malware with cancer nodes to trick radiologists

To highlight security issues in medical imaging equipment, a research group tricked radiologists with malware-created cancer nodes.
Researchers create malware with cancer nodes to trick radiologistsResearchers create malware with cancer nodes to trick radiologists
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With digital dependency in healthcare, we have relied too heavily on medical equipment which may become a liability in the long run. A group of security researchers from Ben-Gurion University's Cyber Security Research Centre in Israel exposed the inconsistencies in the cybersecurity of the databases in hospitals. They beforehand altered the clean records by artificially adding malignant, cancerous lesions or nodules using malware into computed tomographic (CT) scans results that were readily hacked. Further, the radiologists were tested to diagnose on the basis of the same scans.

A blind study was conducted by the researchers that asked radiologists to diagnose conditions based on CT lung scans—some of which were altered using the malware. What was shocking was that even after being told that the results are fake, the radiologists reported the altered nodes as cancer-positive 99 per cent of the time.

Not only does this threaten the lives of the patients, takes away the hospital's authenticity but is also a fallacy that can indoctrinate an individual's understanding forever and take them far away from the truth – socially, economically and politically.

Too often, the document management systems bearing patients' records are open to the network, unencrypted so that it is accessible.

As of today, healthcare is attacked by cyber-crimes like data theft and malware attacks all the time, compromising patients' data and sabotaging it for self-interest.

While this blind study was based on cancer, imaging tests like MRI, PET scans are useful in the care and treatment of cancer, epilepsy, brain tumours, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, blood clots, spinal injuries, bone fractures, ligament injuries and arthritis, which can have any meaning, then will we be running for second opinions or third in such a world?

The stakes are too high as we are now in the era of imaging and not thinking.

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