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Cybersecurity expert discusses its role in healthcare’s future

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Dr Matias Madou - Chief technology officer and co-founder of Secure Code Warrior

The chief technology officer and co-founder of Secure Code Warrior has discussed the importance of cybersecurity in the future of healthcare as digital technology becomes more common in the sector.

Secure Code Warrior was founded in 2015 by global cybersecurity experts Pieter Danhieux and Dr Matias Madou. 

It is an online secure coding platform that helps developers think and act with a security mindset, supporting a range of programming languages and frameworks that power modern software, including digital infrastructures like web apps and services, API, mobile, IoT technology, and legacy systems still in use by major companies around the world. 

Madou spoke to Health Tech World about why the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for more of an emphasis on cybersecurity within healthcare. 

He said: “Amidst this pandemic, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers have been hammered by cyber attackers trying to access possibly the most valuable data on the planet at the moment. Beyond the value of healthcare data, in some of the most extreme cases, effective cybersecurity procedures can be the difference between life and death.

“For example, MRI machines have been compromised, and hospitals that have experienced a cyberattack have had their response times significantly affected in the aftermath. 

Digital security in healthcare may have previously been overlooked due to the perception of how cybersecurity relates to healthcare, and this hasn’t been helped by how rapidly we’ve increased the use of internet-enabled technology for patient care.  

“Whilst keeping private patient data safe remains a priority, the rise of connected medical devices, from pacemakers to wearables, has dramatically expanded the attack surface in recent years, and the industry, along with public perceptions, are still catching up.”

Madou also touched on what needs to happen to ensure cybersecurity catches up with the use of digital technology in the healthcare sector. 

“The health tech sector in the UK is currently the largest employer in the life science industry and has a combined turnover of £24bn. Therefore, we’re undoubtedly going to see explosive growth in medical technology, and this inevitably leads to increased cybersecurity risks. 

“With this in mind, it would make sense that such a vital and sensitive industry would prioritise cybersecurity. However, to build software at the speed of demand, there are many factors to consider. 

“It is going to take dedicated effort to implement security from the beginning of the development process and bake it into every stage thereafter. A way to force the issue on a global scale would be for policymakers and legislators to implement tighter cybersecurity regulations, especially in healthcare, where lives are on the line.”

He added: “We know that training developers is at the heart of this mission and so it’s important we continue to focus on the human element of cybersecurity to solve the problem at its root.”

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