THaW leads panel at Grace Hopper Conference

Two THaW researchers led a panel on designing mobile and wearable devices for health and wellness at the Grace Hopper Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on October 10th, 2014. The panel was co-hosted by Dr. Klara Nahrstedt (THaW Co-PI and Professor of Computer Science at UIUC), and Aarathi Prasad (Ph.D. Candidate at Dartmouth College). Panelists included Ruzena Bajcsy (Professor of EECS at UC Berkeley), Jung Ook Hong (research scientist at Fitbit), and Janet Campbell (product lead at Epic). The panel discussed issues related to usability, security, and privacy that mobile and wearable health and wellness application developers should be aware of. Jung discussed the effect that data presentation has on user’s behavior; for example, users are more likely to take 10,000 steps than 8,000 steps because they receive an encouraging message to take a few more steps to cross the daily 10,000 step-count goal. Ruzena talked about the challenges faced by elderly users of mHealth technologies, such as small fonts and complicated buttons on a device. Klara presented the security and privacy issues that arise when people use mobile and wearable health and wellness devices and discussed the different THaW projects briefly. Finally, Janet talked about the issues of sending data to an EHR, such as identifying the patient whose data is in the EHR.

photo of 5 panelists

Jung Ook Hong, Klara Nahrstedt, Ruzena Bajcsy, Janet Campbell, Aarathi Prasad

 

THaW’s Professor Kevin Fu on Slashdot

Professor Kevin Fu Answers Your Questions About Medical Device Security

Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you’ll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.

Fu: I apologize for the year-long delay, but my queue has rather overflowed after part of my house collapsed. See slide #11 for more information on the delay.

Medical device security is a challenging area because it covers a rather large set of disciplines including software engineering, clinical care, patient safety, electrical engineering, human factors, physiology, regulatory affairs, cryptography, etc. There are a lot of well meaning security engineers who have not yet mastered the culture and principles of health care and medicine, and similarly there are a lot of well meaning medical device manufacturers who have not yet mastered the culture and principles of information security and privacy. I started out as a gopher handing out authentication tokens for a paperless medical record system at a hospital in the early 1990s, but in the last decade have focused my attention on security of embedded devices with application to health and wellness.

I huddled with graduate students from my SPQR Lab at Michigan, and we wrote up the following responses to the great questions. We were not able to answer every question, but readers can find years worth of in-depth technical papers on blog.secure-medicine.org and spqr.eecs.umich.edu/publications.php and thaw.org.

Link to the original slashdot posting here.

THaW on TV

Blog post from Professor Kevin Fu –

NBC Chicago interviews patients, physicians, and researchers on medical device security

The TV headline is hyperbolic, but the content is level headed.

Tammy Leitner of NBC Chicago interviewed a number of patients, physicians, and researchers about the challenges of medical device security. Here’s a link to the full video.

Had this interview happened in 2008, the tone would have likely been more confrontational. Remember when Archimedes researchers demonstrated radio-controlled security flaws in pacemaker/defibrillators (also see the Schneier commentary)? Back in 2008, manufacturers and FDA were not accustomed to interacting with security researchers reporting such software-based flaws. It’s completely understandable. Imagine if an unfamiliar person showed up at your front door to point out security problems of your house. The outcome might be unpleasant. Thus, interactions initially got off to a rocky start. But that’s the past.

Fast forward to 2014, and times have changed significantly for the better. The forward-thinking manufacturers, influential researchers, and health care providers regularly interact and help each other to improve medical device security. A few positive examples that brought researchers, clinicians, manufacturers, and regulators together include the draft technical information report on medical device cybersecurity by AAMI (the IETF equivalent of the medical manufacturing world), the Archimedes workshop, and the upcoming FDA workshop on medical device security.

So if you’re a future graduate student or budding security researcher, I’d encourage you to read the technical papers from the short history of medical device security. It’s no longer a cat-and-mouse game of pointing out buffer overflows and SQL injection attacks. The future is about interdisciplinary computing and health care research to produce technology, best practices, and policies that improve medical device security without interfering with the workflow or delivery of health care.

Link to original blog post here.

ZEBRA press

THaW’s article about Zero-Effort Bilateral Recurring Authentication (ZEBRA) triggered a lot of press coverage: such as Communications of the ACM (CACM)VICE MotherboardGizmagThe Register UKPlanet Biometrics*, Computer Business Review*,  Fierce Health ITDaily Science NewsSenior Tech Insider, Motherboard, Homeland Security Newswire, and NFC World. They’re all intrigued by ZEBRA’s ability to continuously authenticate the user of a desktop terminal and to log them out if they leave or if someone else steps in to use the keyboard. Some(*) mistakenly believe our ZEBRA method uses biometrics; quite the contrary, ZEBRA is designed to be user-agnostic and thus requires no per-user training period. (ZEBRA correlates the bracelet wearer’s movements with the keyboard and mouse movements, not with a prior model of the wearer’s movements as do methods built on behavioral biometrics.)  ZEBRA could be combined with a biometric authentication of the wearer to the bracelet, and can be combined with other methods of initial authentication of wearer to system (such as username/password, or fingerprints) making it an extremely versatile tool that adds strength to existing approaches. The Dartmouth THaW team continues to refine ZEBRA.

photo of Shimmer device on a wrist, wherein the hand is using a mouse and the other hand is using a keyboard

Our experiments used the Shimmer research device, though in principle it could work with any fitness band.

 

THaW annual meeting

Our team held its annual in-person meeting, this year on the edge of the Green on the beautiful campus of Dartmouth College. Two days of enriching technical talks about work in progress, brainstorming sessions about upcoming programs, and valued feedback from our NSF program officers… plus opportunities for our five-university group to build connections and collaborative bonds. A few hardy souls hiked to the top of nearby Mount Cardigan the morning after the meeting, in a stiff breeze that reminded us all Fall is approaching.

Group photo at the Dartmouth meeting, September 2014

Group photo at the Dartmouth meeting, September 2014

THaW hikers atop Mount Cardigan on a blustery NH day (AJ, Carl, Shrirang, David, Faraz).

THaW hikers atop Mount Cardigan on a blustery NH day (AJ, Carl, Shrirang, David, Faraz).

Jenna Wiens joins THaW team

Jenna Wiens is an Assistant Professor in EECS at the University of Michigan. In the fall of 2014, she joined the CSE division after completing her PhD at MIT.

Professor Wiens primary research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning and medicine. She especially enjoys solving the technical challenges that arise when considering the practical application of machine learning in clinical settings. Currently, she is focused on developing accurate patient risk stratification approaches that leverage data across time and space, with the ultimate goal of reducing the rate of healthcare-associated infections among patients admitted to hospitals in the US.

Information Leakage in Mobile Health Sensors and Applications

Anthony Louie recently completed his senior thesis, Information Leakage in Mobile Health Sensors and Applications. Here is the abstract from his thesis:

Mobile health sensors and applications are at risk to information leakage due to the vulnerabilities present on mobile platforms and the risks of using wireless sensors. A possible vulnerability that has not been adequately researched in this area however is data leakage related specifically to how the sensor and the mobile device are designed interact with each other. Such vulnerabilities may exist because of how the health sensors are implemented through the operating system and how hardware is used in the devices. Through an analysis of a mobile health sensor we provide an idea of the current state of mobile health sensor security.

A copy of Louie’s thesis can be found here – Anthony-Louie-Final-Information Leakage in Mobile Health Sensors and Applications

What it takes to move healthcare IT forward

rubin_thaw
What it takes to move healthcare IT forward
Professor Rubin discusses why health care security is different than other areas of IT security. He also delves into the challenges facing securing healthcare IT and why health care professionals are resistant to cybersecurity.He also provides insight in to the goals and objectives of the Thaw Project.For more see Professor Rubins interview in Tech Target — ThaW Researcher “Avi Rubin on what it takes to move healthcare IT security forward” June, 2014 

Security Threats to Android Apps

Dongjing He recently submitted her thesis, Security Threats to Android Apps, for her MS degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He’s research addressed two security vulnerabilities with mobile applications: deficiencies in mobile app development and design ambiguities of the Android operating system. Specifically, He used a three stage study of mHealth apps to investigate potential breach opportunities arising from the reliance on unsecured Internet communications and third party servers. He also researched and discovered side-channel leaks on Android devices. He proposes defense strategies for both vulnerabilities.

Coverage of He’s work can be found in these two articles:

http://mobihealthnews.com/33828/student-study-of-android-health-apps-most-prevalent-security-issues/

http://healthitsecurity.com/2014/06/09/mhealth-android-app-security-review-attack-surfaces/

Avi Rubin on what it takes to move healthcare IT security forward

Avi Rubin was recently interviewed by Marcus J. Ranum on the issues surrounding healthcare IT security.  The interview appeared on TechTarget.

Avi offers answers to some of the most perplexing issues surrounding healthcare IT security:

  • What makes healthcare IT different from other areas of IT security?
  • What are some of the major challenges facing the delivery of a secure healthcare IT infrastructure?
  • Why are health care professional resistant to attempts at securing healthcare IT?

Avi also provides insight into the goals of the THaW project, and the difference between destructive and constructive security research.

The interview is well worth a few minutes of your time.