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Comment: Computer Virus Sparks National Health Service Cyber-Security Fears

3rd May 2019

It was recently reported that researchers from an Israeli university have developed a computer virus that can manipulate medical scans to such a standard that it fooled seasoned health professionals.

In laboratory testing at Gurion University’s cyber-security centre, researchers created malware that tricked no less than three professional radiologists into believing 70 images showed cancerous cells.

Junior Litigation Executive, George Pacitto has commented on the potential threat such viruses could pose to National Health Service security and patient safety.

“In this ever evolving world of cyber security, nothing seems to remain truly sacred.

“In an attempt to underline the importance of remaining secure when handling sensitive data, a team from Israel have successfully created a software that allows users to create alterations to existing hospital imaging.

“Tested on a number of MRI and CT scans, CT-GAN, developed by a team in Israel, is a terrifying experiment in regards to the future of medical treatment. With it able to create non-existent tumours within a matter of milliseconds, the consequences for potentially healthy patients could be fatal.

“The images shown so far publically are those of lung scans, but according to Cornell University in New York, where the team is based, the malware could be tuned to produce other fake conditions such as brain tumours, blood clots, fractures or spinal problems.

“The team also stated that CT-GAN was able to bypass most basic screening softwares, designed to keep out this exact kind of threat. While “there is no sign of the software or any of its type being ready for a full scale attack on US or UK soil, the threat in itself is still very real.

“Of course, being able to play God in this manner throws up other potential areas to exploit. Rival political candidate? Render them too ill to stand. Fancy extorting a wealthy former benefactor? Dangling the threat of non-existent cancer may be enough of a blackmail threat.

“As ridiculous as these scenarios might sound, who might have expected the now infamous Wannacry NHS attack of 2017 that crippled systems for hours, with repercussions that are still felt to this day?

“The NHS must make steps to ensure that this threat never becomes reality. Digital signatures on radiology documents need not only to be commonplace, but compulsory. Without the necessary encryption on these files, we may reach the stage where we are all leaving our own safety to chance.

“It is time for our National Health Service to become more proactive than reactive in the name of cyber security. After all, prevention is better than cure.”



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