Some disturbing findings have been uncovered in British hospitals by The Daily Mail:
Thousands of patients are at risk from hackers targeting medical records stored on computer at leading hospitals, a Daily Mail investigation has revealed.
Confidential files are potentially accessible because there is no security on new computer networks that do not rely on wires, warn experts.
Viruses which could paralyse a hospital could also be fed into their systems by hackers using basic software.
Dozens of hospitals are using wireless networks – which transmit signals like radio stations – to allow staff to use their systems more easily.
However, because of poor security, hackers could access the signals at a range of 300ft using a laptop computer and easily-available software.
The Mail surveyed 12 hospitals in the South-East. In seven we were able to pick up wireless signals that could be easily accessed without a password.
They were the London hospitals Guy’s, St George’s and St Mary’s; Kent and Sussex Hospital, in Tunbridge Wells; St Helier Hospital, in Surrey; Wexham Park Hospital, in Berkshire; and Wycombe General Hospital, in High Wycombe.
According to computer security experts, a hacker could gain access to network data.
“It takes just one unguarded wireless device on the premises to allow a knowledgeable virtual intruder to gain access to a network,” warned Karl Feilder, president and chief executive officer of wireless security specialist Red-M.
As well as the potential disclosure and manipulation of patient records, he said the introduction of a computer virus to hospitals could be catastrophic.
“This issue is way beyond invasion of privacy,” added Mr Feilder. “What if someone altered your medical records? You could end up not being treated for a serious condition or being treated for a condition you don’t have.