Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | November 02, 2011

Keeping Zombie Radiology at Bay

My least favorite celebration of the year ended October 31 without (real) bloodshed and with all of my body parts, and those of everyone I know, intact. Radiologists seeking to join in could do so with specialty merchandise.

 Zazzle asked the brain dead – or their mimics – to plunk down $20 for a coffee mug and $30 for a tote, each emblazoned with “Attack of the Zombie” and a humanoid figure bearing absolutely no discernible resemblance to a radiologist (http://www.zazzle.com/attack_of_the_zombie_radiologist_bag-149372381811842836).  Have dot coms no shame?

But it got me thinking…what exactly would a zombie radiologist look like? The answer may be right in front of us.

Last summer, a report surfaced about a “Zombie imaging computer” at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. This computer wasn’t supposed to connect to the Internet but it did – and apparently on its own (“Zombie Imaging Computer Steals Mystery Data,” http://www.radiologydaily.com/daily/practice-management/zombie-imaging-computer-steals-mystery-data/). A vendor using the Internet to conduct routine maintenance failed to restore the computer’s default settings. Then, when no one was looking, the workstation signed onto the Web and, soon infected by malware, began transmitting data about thousands of radiology patients.

Such a story might be filed under the anomalous pages of “when good computers go bad,” if it weren’t for the extraordinary hacking potential that medical computers represent. Particularly at risk are those widely networked into picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), as well as ones linked globally to support radiology. As more and more reach into the cloud for their data, the opportunity for mischief increases. (“Information Security Risk Management Framework for the Cloud Computing Environments,” http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?arnumber=5577860 ) This opportunity will be amplified many times over when the use of smartphones and other mobile devices to send medical images becomes commonplace.

The radiology community should already be well aware of the risks. A decade ago, Dr. John Eng of Johns Hopkins University warned of the dangers facing radiology from attacks that might compromise one computer and spread through the network (http://radiology.rsna.org/content/220/2/303.full#sec-5). Firewalls and other such security measures can go a long way toward deterring intruders. But as the Zombie computer at Beth Israel makes clear, not all possibilities can be foreseen.

Diligence and caution are critical…or zombie radiology may become all too real.

Related Content

Nuance, peer60, medical image sharing leader, 2015 report, PowerShare Network
News | Remote Viewing Systems| August 13, 2015
Nuance Communications Inc. announced that peer60, a smart data software company, has identified Nuance as the leading...
ICD-10, transition, practices, Richard Milam, EnableSoft, robotic process automation, software testing, education, communication
News | Business| August 13, 2015
August 13, 2015 — Many organizations may be rallying employees and resources in order to make the switch from the ICD
ACR, log file measurements, IMRT, VMAT, QA, ROPA, accreditation, Mobius3D, Mobius Medical Systems
News | Quality Assurance (QA)| August 11, 2015
The American College of Radiology (ACR) recently published a statement regarding its Radiation Oncology Practice...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Information Technology| August 07, 2015
Interview with Melody Mulaik, MSHS, Coding Strategies Inc., Powder Springs, Ga., explains what to look for to avoid c
ImagineSoftware, CPU Medical Management Systems, CPUMMS, billing automation software, cloud-based healthcare information systems
News | Business| August 07, 2015
ImagineSoftware announced that cloud-based medical and professional billing software solutions provider CPU Medical...
IBM, purchase, Merge Healthcare, $1 billion, Watson
News | PACS| August 06, 2015
August 6, 2015 — IBM announced that its Watson Health Cloud will gain the ability to “see” following the planned acqu
Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center, Varian, Aria, oncology information
News | Radiation Oncology| July 16, 2015
The Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center (KF-SYSCC) has established an entirely paperless and filmless clinical...
Most Wired, CHIME, information technology, secuirty, patient engagement
News | Information Technology| July 10, 2015
Health data security and patient engagement are top priorities for the nation's hospitals, according to results of the...
Overlay Init