How the “Internet of Things” Broke the Internet

Small Devices Can Make a Big Mess

On October 21, the large tech news of the day was that the Internet was broken due to the “Internet of Things” (IoT) attacking a company that provides Domain Name Services (DNS) to millions of websites. But what does this mean and how does it impact a healthcare practice? Let’s take a closer look. 

You may already have an idea as to what DNS is; perhaps you’ve even heard your IT guru say “if names are broken, everything is broken.” Essentially, DNS is a service that matches the familiar URL that you know by heart to an IP address, or a list of IP addresses, that can respond to your request. That day in October, millions of small devices, such as web cams, wireless access points, and other screen-less gadgets created a deluge of constant and repeating requests to one of the Internet’s largest providers of DNS. That day in October, names were definitely broken.

Potential Healthcare Impacts
The IoT is growing quickly because everything that can have an IP address tracked via a network can be part of the growing technology trend. And for healthcare, think about patient tracking systems, patient monitors, check-in tablets, and even home-care systems that provide telemedicine.

Consider a possible scenario in the not-to-distant future: 

You have a patient tracking system across your offices that monitors patient flow within clinic. On one fine morning, you find that access to your EHR has come to a crawl due to your stable of patient trackers inadvertently becoming part of a distributed denial of service attack. Staff are annoyed. Doctors are frustrated. And it’s all due to a small security flaw in a small device found all over your offices. 

It may not seem like it affects your practice right now, but technology has a way of growing without your expressed awareness. Be vigilant about the existence of these devices and make sure your team has a plan for such potential outages. 

If you’ve partnered with Systeem for your IT support, we have you covered already with our Proactive Network Monitoring. For more information on IoT and how we can help assess your technology plan, please contact us at 940-484-0850 or send us a message.