Cybersecurity and mHealth Apps

  • Posted: 2 years ago

According to an Accenture survey in 2018, 75% of consumers said that technology was important in managing their health. In the same research, nearly half (48%) of healthcare consumers reported using mHealth apps, compared to just 16% in 2014. Unfortunately, as the digital healthcare network continues to flourish, cyber crime and breaches in consumer data grow. 


FDA Guidance

Interestingly, health-care is currently topping the list for industries at greatest risk of cyber intrusions. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that global health-care cybersecurity spending will exceed $65 billion cumulatively over the next two years. These developments have not gone unnoticed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is proactively addressing cybersecurity risks in medical devices. In order to mitigate exploitation of medical records and devices - including mobile medical apps - the FDA released a Guide on protecting mHealth devices from hackers in 2016. The Agency called on mHealth device makers to enforce cybersecurity not only during design and development, but even after product release.


The 30-page Guide urges mHealth companies to:

  • Actively monitor and detect cybersecurity vulnerabilities in their devices
  • Understand, assess and detect the level of risk a vulnerability poses to patient safety
  • Establish a process for working with cybersecurity researchers and other stakeholders to receive information about potential vulnerabilities (known as a “coordinated vulnerability disclosure policy”), and
  • Deploy mitigations (e.g. software patches) to address cybersecurity issues early, before they can be exploited and cause harm.

Being cognizant of the FDA’s concern, mHealth apps and devices are now developing stringent processes to protect their data. 


Playpal: An Example of Secured Data


Playpal is a dynamic example of a progressive mHealth app that places user security at the top of its agenda. Its primary goal is to put the vast amount of human health knowledge at the fingertips of its users by collecting their IoT health data from across apps and devices and consolidating their health profile (e.g. a user’s genetic, environmental, circumstantial, social, and historical details). The Platform’s proprietary AI engine then assists users in setting personal goals to build their health capital. To protect this influx of big data, Playpal uses the industry-standard security and privacy best practices, such as strong encryption, blockchain, and granularized access control.


To be more specific, the Infrastructure Service Layer of the Platform's architecture provides non-functional capabilities essential for maintaining a secure system and preserving accountability of all activity. The Platform has technical, administrative, and physical measures in place to ensure that system is HIPAA and GDPR compliant and all data is secure whether at rest, in use, or in motion. Moreover, Playpal stores all of a user's health information in databases linked to the Platform's decentralized health blockchain; this adds to the verifiability and legitimacy of all stored data and actions.


Playpal, along with several other mHealth apps and devices, remains at the forefront of cyber-security. It is evident that cybercrime is on the rise and is a given that no corporation or government agency can be completely immune from data breaches. With the right intervention and resources and with the FDA Guide at hand, organizations across industries are becoming more and more enabled to ensure the protection of their databases and their consumer information. 


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