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A Medical Vulnerability Scoring System Incorporating Health and Data Sensitivity Metrics

Authors: Nadir A. Carreón, Christa Sonderer, Aakarsh Rao, Roman Lysecky


With the advent of complex software and increased connectivity, security of life-critical medical devices is becoming an increasing concern, particularly with their direct impact to human safety. Security is essential, but it is impossible to develop completely secure and impenetrable systems at design time. Therefore, it is important to assess the potential impact on security and safety of exploiting a vulnerability in such critical medical systems. The common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) calculates the severity of exploitable vulnerabilities. However, for medical devices, it does not consider the unique challenges of impacts to human health and privacy. Thus, the scoring of a medical device on which a human life depends (e.g., pacemakers, insulin pumps) can score very low, while a system on which a human life does not depend (e.g., hospital archiving systems) might score very high. In this paper, we present a Medical Vulnerability Scoring System (MVSS) that extends CVSS to address the health and privacy concerns of medical devices. We propose incorporating two new parameters, namely health impact and sensitivity impact. Sensitivity refers to the type of information that can be stolen from the device, and health represents the impact to the safety of the patient if the vulnerability is exploited (e.g., potential harm, life threatening). We evaluate 15 different known vulnerabilities in medical devices and compare MVSS against two state-of-the-art medical device-oriented vulnerability scoring system and the foundational CVSS.

Keywords: Common vulnerability system, medical devices, medical device security, vulnerabilities.

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