Cyber Issues On Medical Devices

Technology is synonymous with modern living. It is a crucial part of our lives that not only makes the world go round right now but somehow makes it more complex too. These high-tech innovations have actually transformed our lives and made a lot of things easier and more comfortable for us but they are also flawed like most things here on this planet. A lot of things are interconnected now on the Internet of Things and as such, things can easily go from bad to worse when disaster strikes. And it is something we have experienced many times in this digital age.

The ransomware, WannaCry, which infected over 200,000 computers globally managed to cripple the UK’s healthcare system and many patients missed out on their medications for days because the medical staff can’t access the hospital computers where the patient’s chart and data can all be found. You see, any tech issue can potentially become a major medical emergency because medical devices that are hooked and used in a patient’s care can be hacked or encrypted by dubious cyber scammers that are only out for monetary gain.

As the internet of things spreads into more and more areas, increasing numbers of medical devices are now connected, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks that could shut down medical processes, expose critical hospital and patient data, and ultimately put patient safety at risk.

Many medical devices are not built with cybersecurity in mind, yet a survey by Deloitte Cyber Risk Services of over 370 professionals organizations operating in the medical device/IoT arena shows that 36.5 percent have suffered a cyber security incident in the past year.


Cyber security is not only a concern for public and private individuals using the web on a daily basis but many hospitals and health institutions have also automated most of their processes and services and are just as vulnerable as any one of us. The problem here is that human lives on the brink of death are at risk once the medical devices and machines keeping them alive suddenly stop working because of a technical error or problem. Medical institutions can’t allow that to happen because the risks are far too big to allow such a failure to prepare and plan a contingency plan for such a scenario that will endanger the lives of the people in their care.

A recent Deloitte survey of over 370 professionals whose organizations operate in the Internet of Things (IoT) connected medical device ecosystem found that more than 35 percent of respondents experienced a cyber security incident in the past year.

Respondent organizations included medical device or component manufacturers, healthcare IT organizations, medical device users, and regulators.

Over 30 percent of respondents said identifying and mitigating the risks of fielded and legacy connected devices presents the industry’s biggest cyber security challenge.

“It’s not surprising that managin cyber risks of existing IoT medical devices is the top concern facing manufacturers, providers and regulators,” Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory partner Russell Jones said in a statement. “Legacy devices can have outdated operating systems and may be on hospital networks without proper security controls.”


Imagine the inconvenience and the outright dangers posed by malfunctioning or non-functioning (at all) medical devices that are supposed to support patient’s lives but fail to do so. Even cyber criminals are aware of this, which is probably why they showed the UK the type of disaster they can bring with the last WannaCry outbreak. Increasing cyber security efforts and taking data recovery backups seriously is something all medical institutions can do to safeguard themselves from such modern problems now that most gadgets (medical or not) are all connected to the web. It is a non-negotiable measure given that malwares are just looming on the horizon and any system can easily fall prey to these attacks.

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Canadians Pioneering In The Use Of Medical Cannabis

The medical community is always full of surprises, from surprising tech innovations, mind blowing medical treatments, new drug discoveries, to out-of-the-box medical practices, the public is always fascinated by most news in the field of medicine. And for quite some time now, we are seeing major changes happening everywhere too. We have witnessed how the humble marijuana plant has transformed its image from an illegal substance to a now legal one. Various US states have already given the thumbs up to the farming, use, promotion, and selling of either medical or recreational cannabis but it seems that the US has been beaten by their next-door neighbor when it comes to this weed’s popularity.

What probably urged Canada to be quick and bolder than the US in their approach towards cannabis is their desire to improve the lives of many Canadians who have been suffering from many chronic and debilitating conditions for the longest time that no drug or medical treatment has managed to address aside from medical cannabis and boost the economy. There have been numerous studies and testimonies as to the powerful effects of medical marijuana in treating conditions like epilepsy, seizure, chronic pain, and even cancer. And unlike the US, Canada has passed the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) in aid of cannabis research, sale, and use, so that Canadians requiring help from such a magical plant like Cannabis can have access to it whenever they need one.

There are millions of people worldwide with chronic diseases and other medical conditions whose lives could be improved with better access to medical cannabis. Meanwhile, for the past decade and a half, Canada has built the most sophisticated medical cannabis framework in the world. These circumstances present an exceptional opportunity for trade leadership on the international stage.

Last year, the amount spent on cannabis worldwide — including medical cannabis — was US$150 billion. By comparison, Canada‘s crude oil exports totalled C$49.8 billion in 2016. The federal government must proactively make medical cannabis exports part of its innovation agenda. With the right approach, the industry has the potential to be a significant contributor to Canada‘s biotechnology and life sciences sectors.


The public’s perception of cannabis has changed a lot over the years and Canada is taking advantage of this positive shift to help them become a leader in the cannabis industry. Unlike some US states that are still undecided whether or not to legalize adult medical or recreational marijuana use in their territories, Canada has been pushing their lead forward and in the process helps their economy grow as well. And they are not wasting any second to realize their goals by acting on it now when other nations are still second guessing their decision.

As Canada marches toward federally legal recreational cannabis, one of the most compelling unknowns is what kinds of stores will eventually sell the marijuana.

Some Canadians are already envisioning a future in which a quick stop at the liquor store could net a bottle of wine for dinner, a six pack for the weekend, and a couple eighths of BC Bud.

While most of the legal world has opted to sell retail weed in pot-specific storefronts, aka dispensaries and pot shops, British Columbia and other provinces are being urged by liquor store owners to sell marijuana inside existing liquor stores.


Given Canada’s current aggressive take on cannabis use, it probably won’t be long before they eventually start selling weeds alongside most alcohols, wines, and spirits in groceries and stores. Although it is a novel and daring concept, we all know nothing is impossible especially if such actions are backed by the federal government like in the case of Canada. For now, there are legit dispensaries where cannabis patients can go to and come out with various weed products in hand. Supply really isn’t an issue anymore and people realize more than ever how beneficial weed is for their health where most traditional medical treatments have failed.

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Bitcoins: The New Gold Rush

Human beings are always on the lookout for the next big thing in life. We don’t just settle for second-rate items or luxuries because we only want the best our money can afford. Although we don’t always get what we want, it gives us more reason to work harder and hope for a brighter future. If we want to uplift our lives, we must be able to act timely on opportunities or forever miss our chance of experiencing something really great in our lives.

Knowing that we are now living in the digital age, it is safe to assume that the majority of the population is hooked on some sort of tech device in their day-to-day lives. We are a generation that can’t live without social media and the Internet – a far cry from the lives led by our parents and grandparents in the past. Yet, this is the reality of our times whatever part of the globe you may be living in. So, it no longer comes as a surprise that the new opportunities presented to us are also in the digital form. What am I talking about? Bitcoins.

With cryptocurrencies like bitcoin quadrupling in value this year alone, high frequency players are finding their way to the new Wild West of trading that some believe is in bubble territory. Proprietary trading firms are particularly well positioned to pursue cryptocurrency trading because they are in the business of putting their firms’ own capital to work. The fiduciary obligations Wall Street’s hedge funds have to their outside investors often preclude them from trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The big Wall Street investment banks like Goldman Sachs have their own institutional limitations.

“The only place to start an institutional-sized bitcoin trading desk in 2014 would have been at a principal trading firm like DRW,” Komaransky said in an interview conducted over email with Forbes.


You’d be surprised at how Bitcoin investors are enjoying their profits today. Cryptocurrency is the name of the game nowadays and everyone who wants a good investment turns to it because everybody wants to have a slice of the pie. It is a great way to double, triple, or even quadruple your money, something you won’t be able to do with conventional investments.

The cryptocurrency space in India is likely to soon light up as major players enter the market and plan to offer trade in many other cryptocurrencies apart from bitcoin.

Poland-based cryptocurrency exchange, BitBay will soon launch its services in India and enable users to buy and sell 6 altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies to bitcoin).

A few exchanges like Zebpay, Unocoin, and Coinsecure have been there for a while, providing a platform for trading bitcoin but have not yet introduced various altcoins like ethereum, ripple, dash etc. on their platforms.

Riding on the back of bitcoin’s popularity, altcoins have rallied exponentially since the start of the year. The market cap of altcoins has shot from USD 2 billion to USD 77 billion since the beginning of the year.

With the entry of BitBay, users will have access to some of the most popular altcoins like litecoin, ether, monero and dash which have rallied over 1,050 percent, 3,825 percent, 620 percent, and 2,216 percent year-to-date respectively, as per Coinmarketcap.


Cryptocurrency may still be a novel item for most tech users right now but it won’t be for long as these alternative currencies are currently taking the world by storm. Investments are skyrocketing and many hypes about it on social media, so it is no longer surprising if many are asking about it on a daily basis. Since the start of 2017, Bitcoin’s value kept on rising and it has encouraged investors to put in more money and buy more crypto currencies making it the multi-billion industry that it is today. Bitcoin is actually just one type of cryptocurrency. There are many more that you can invest in if you are willing to take the risk of this highly unstable market.

Bitcoins: The New Gold Rush is republished from Euro Toques


Why Children Are Getting Fatter By The Minute

Kids give more meaning to life. Ask any parent about it and they will likely tell you the same thing. But raising one is a different story. There are a lot of hurdles parents face each day from the moment a child is born. Not only are parents expected to provide all the basic needs of their kids but as well as teach them on how to become wise, responsible, God-fearing, and compassionate adults someday. But how can kids do that in the near future if they are already struggling with their health (and body image) as early as now? Looks may not be everything but say that to a bullied pubertal child or teen and you’d likely receive glaring stares that paint a thousand words.

Weight is the biggest struggle of young kids these days perhaps because of the food they eat and the lifestyle they lead. Parents today are almost always harassed and exhausted so you can’t expect them to prepare healthy home-cooked meals when more often than not, both partners are out most of the day earning their keep. Aside from feeding their young children sweets, junks and processed food, kids also have access to tech gadgets to help them pass the time and not bother their tired parents at home. So eating + lounging around with a tablet/smart gadget with WiFi in hand = obesity. Hence, more and more kids are diagnosed as overweight and obese today than kids in the past.

Affiliated with Tokyo’s National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, the authors of the new study express concern about the number of Japanese children with weight problems: “approximately 10% and 8% of 12-year-old boys and girls, respectively, were overweight or obese in 2015.” Though these percentages are down a bit from what health officials saw in 2000, when they began addressing the problem, the authors of the new study still regard them as “substantial.”

Childhood obesity is hardly peculiar to Japan. The researchers see “Japan follow[ing] the global trends,” with “the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity increas[ing worldwide] in the late 20th century,” pushing the number of preschool children who were overweight or obese in 2014 to approximately 41 million.


Even adults find comfort in eating especially when they are stressed. It is not surprising to discover that kids are vulnerable to this too since it helps them cope with all the new things they encounter in life. Children’s preoccupation with technology leaves them too lazy to engage in more active outdoor activities that young kids their age should be doing. Yet even though we like pinching the chubby cheeks of a cute, fat child, the impact of obesity on the health and well-being of that child is not always a positive experience as it can put them at higher risk of certain medical conditions and even suffer from lower self-esteem from being bullied by their peers for their heavy weight.

Recent research reflects some of this range of aetiological factors that influence childhood obesity. Global perspectives from countries of study including Brazil, Australia, England, South Africa, China, and a review of the international literature cover topics frequently reported by the media, like the food environment, unhealthy food advertising policy, weight management interventions, and associations with gender and sleep. Lesser known research areas include the developmental origins of obesity, which examines how foetal conditions in utero can influence the amount of fat deposited on the body in childhood and adulthood. This field of research provides the kind of evidence used to justify a public health approach to obesity, with a focus on prevention in early life. Another important area of public health research, but again perhaps lesser known, is the roles of schools and parents, given the tendency for policy approaches to involve schools and communities in prevention.


Society as a whole should be taught to change their perception regarding obesity and basically urge everyone to examine the way they live their lives and how parents also raise their children. If children aren’t taught about the value of health and healthy eating, they will carry their bad habits into adulthood and eventually do the same thing to their children. It will be an endless vicious cycle that we are starting to feel its menace now. The problem basically lies with the types of food we eat and how we live our lives when we are constantly glued to the screens of our smart gadgets day in and day out.

Despite this awareness, nothing much has changed and kids still get fed with fastfood and all things sweet and processed. But you can’t blame most parents since it is actually more expensive now to feed your family with healthy and organic food than junks especially if these parents are also struggling to make both ends meet. Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. It is only with the concerted efforts of everyone that we can start making progress in addressing childhood obesity and saving young kids from a long list of health, emotional, and mental woes brought about by being overweight or obese from a young age.

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Cyber Criminals: A Threat To The Power Grid

Technology is crucial to how well we live our lives today. Think about times when there are power blackouts. Can you imagine your discomfort as you trudge on the next few hours devoid of power and all the modern conveniences you have grown accustomed to? It is interesting to note, though, that as we become highly dependent on these technologies we also gradually realize how fragile they are compared to digital crimes committed today. We can easily go powerless for days on end if cyber criminals manage to click on the right button and mess up an entire power grid’s operation.

And ironically, it isn’t just something we have randomly thought about but already a reality that has already happened in certain parts of the globe. In Europe, for instance, Ireland’s power grid was overtaken by cyber criminals. If it happened to them, it can also easily happen to any place here on earth, even in the United States. Cyber criminals manage to take down the impressive Irish engineering and infrastructure safety precautions, so it won’t be difficult for these hackers to do it again to a different power grid in a far away country and temporarily cripple an entire nation.

Two weeks ago it was cyberattacks on the Irish power grid. Last month it was a digital assault on U.S. energy companies, including a nuclear power plant. Back in December a Russian hack of a Vermont utility was all over the news. From the media buzz, one might conclude that power grid infrastructure is teetering on the brink of a hacker-induced meltdown.

The real story is more nuanced, however. Scientific American spoke with grid cybersecurity expert Robert M. Lee, CEO of industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos, Inc., to sort out fact from hype. Dragos, which aims to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, recently raised $10 million from investors to further its mission. Before he founded the company, Lee worked for the U.S. government analyzing and defending against cyberattacks on infrastructure. For a portion of his military career, he also worked on the government’s offensive front. His work has given him a front-row view on both sides of infrastructure cybersecurity.


While people working on the grid take pride in the safety and reliability of these structures given that they can manage to withstand and survive even the most inclement of weathers, the threat actually involves the computer technology that runs these infrastructures and the way it connects everything. It will scare you, actually, and it’s the reason why these genius hackers pull off stunts like this without a sweat.

After it came to light this summer that hackers had infiltrated the computer networks of two U.S. power companies – at a time the country was still reeling from Russian cyberattacks aimed at influencing the 2016 election – the possibility of hackers taking down the U.S. power grid and sending the nation into chaos suddenly seemed a very real possibility.

The companies pledged there was no danger. Senators called hearings and wrote letters to the White House demanding to know what it was doing about it.

But to the teams of cybersecurity analysts charged with protecting the world’s industries from a rapidly evolving deluge of malware, viruses and other tools of the hacker trade, it was just the latest in an escalating cyberwar against power grids and other critical infrastructure around the globe.


Hackers are increasingly becoming more interested in attacking power grids because if they do so, they’ll be able to (somehow) make the world stop even just for a while and relish in the moment when they are able to disrupt the world order and show the world how powerful they have become. It’s surprising how breaking into a computer system can make everything stop in an instant.

And considering that we live in a digital world, human life will be in total chaos and be put at a standstill with the power out indefinitely. Everything that relies on electricity to work will stop and that is basically everything there is in the world right now. Let these previous instances serve as both as a warning and lesson to everyone not to take cyber security lightly because a lot is at stake with the data we have on the web and everything else that is connected to it.

The following article Cyber Criminals: A Threat To The Power Grid is republished from Euro Toques


Why Data Recovery Matters At A Time Of Widespread Malware Threats

We can’t deny how much technology has made our lives so much easier. We no longer need to do most things manually and everything is just simply automated. That in itself is already a blessing. Imagine no longer having to put in the manual labor to get things done. Yet no matter comfortable and convenient our lives have become, there are its drawbacks too. Everything can go haywire in an instant when you encounter a tech-related issue. It is even more difficult if you are clueless about how the technology works itself and you have no go-to guy around that can help you with your digital concerns. You should, by the way, have a go-to guy.

As complicated technology already is, the rising threat of cyber attacks is also a cause of concern among tech users. Malwares are everywhere. You can hear it constantly mentioned on news and it makes tech user’s stomach queasy with the jitters with just the thought of getting hit by such a major headache. Malware often attacks older models of computers and laptops but there have been mobile versions too. These malwares have been so nasty they even managed to cripple many businesses and organizations all over the world and even the UK’s healthcare system a few months ago. Patients missed out on their medications because the medical staff can’t access their data on the computer. Everything just vanished.

In Q2 2017, cyber criminals involved in spam distribution tried to capitalize on public fears when the WannaCry ransomware epidemic struck in May. Knowing that there are lots of people out there infected with this ransomware, and searching for ways to get their encrypted data back, fraudsters sent out spam and phishing emails, offering users different services to fight against the epidemics. This is one of the key findings of Kaspersky Lab’s “Spam and phishing in Q2 2017” report.

The WannaCry ransomware attack affected more than 200,000 computers across the globe, resulting in massive panic, and spammers instantly capitalized on the opportunity. Researchers detected a large amount of messages offering services such as protection from WannaCry attacks, data recovery, and, moreover, educational workshops and courses for users. In addition, spammers successfully implemented a traditional scheme of fraudulent offers to install software updates on affected computers. However, links were redirecting users to phishing pages, where the personal data of victims would have been stolen.


It’s funny that this entire WannaCry issue wasn’t really just all about crippling nations and gaining money from the bitcoin ransom but also as a means to advertise their data recovery magic to the unfortunate computer users who have fallen victims to this scam for even more cyber hacking. Even corporate offices received such offers but there is a catch, not only are these dubious people offering such services but in the process also steals personal data of the victims by redirecting victims to phishing pages. It’s a double whammy for these unfortunate individuals to be scammed twice.

But you will likely also have a great deal of data that is not in a cloud-only system — data that lives on your internal networks, from instruction manuals to copies of your logo.

To protect this data from ransomware, you need to do two things:

Keep your backups somewhere that is not part of your online network file system.

Keep earlier versions that you can restore in bulk if ransomware encrypts the originals.

You may have your data synched to an online storage system like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. But few if any of these cloud storage systems allow you to automatically restore all of your files to a specified point in time. If the online storage service does keep earlier versions, you may have to restore them manually, file by file. Your files probably number in the tens of thousands, so this is a weak solution; Combo’s David Markus is one who warns against using ordinary cloud storage systems for backup.

Instead, most businesses will need to implement one of two reliable ransomware-proof systems.


Data security is the biggest threat on the web today when cyber criminals have also leveled up their A-game and the possibility of quantum computing that will eventually override encryption that is essentially our safety net against hackers when using the Internet is looming on the horizon.

Then, there is the issue of data recovery for those whose gadgets have succumbed to the malware introduced especially that most backups installed on hard drives failed to protect the gadgets from these malwares. They’re just too much to handle for these victims, so better upgrade the OS you are using to protect yourself from these modern dilemmas as newer operating systems are equipped to fight off these ransomware attacks much better than older models.


Why Data Recovery Matters At A Time Of Widespread Malware Threats Read more on: The Euro Toques Blog


Clear The Streets Of The Homeless

The world has never been a fair place to live in. Poverty is rampant everywhere and only a few gets to enjoy most of the riches of this world. This unequal distribution of wealth has left millions (if not billions) of people hurt, starving, lonely, at a disadvantage, and left to fend for themselves against the elements and basically everything else. If you look around you, especially if you are living in highly urbanized areas/cities, the number of homeless people scattered all over the streets is growing. They seem to be popping here and there and mostly reliant on the generosity of other people.

Just imagine what it would be like living on the streets – without a wall and a roof to protect you from harm. For years, the government and the private sector have teamed up to help clear the streets of these unfortunate souls yet many still remain and the number keeps on growing. Blame it on our unstable economy and other personal variables, it seems like an impossible endeavor to clear the streets of the homeless population and help them stand on their two feet once more.

Hoping to place thousands of homeless people into affordable housing regionwide, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to partner with all cities across the county that step up and help in the effort.

A motion introduced by supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl will allow county officials to fund supportive services to all 88 cities that provide rental vouchers, for example. The supportive services will be paid for by Measure H funding.

“Homelessness is the defining civic issue of our time and addressing it requires all hands on deck,” Ridley-Thomas said. “By working cooperatively, efficiently and urgently, the County and cities are not only taking people off the streets but also putting them on a path to long-term stability and recovery.”


Aside from helping the homeless find jobs so they can support their needs, there are also efforts that aim in helping the homeless escape the streets by providing them affordable housing options. How can a country like America claim to be a progressive and first-world nation when there are thousands (possibly millions) of its citizens loitering in the streets? Only when it can provide for all the needs of its citizens can the US be as proud as other nations that know how to take care of its citizens well.

A key policy framework was evolved to involve private players in building homes and a milestone reform was initiated to allow 100 per cent FDI in real estate in 2005. This was supplemented by a flagship mission of JNNURM to provide shelter for the urban poor, which however, did not prove very effective due to deficient guidelines to states about parking and utilisation of funds. The net result is that today we have a shortage of about two million dwelling units.

It’s in this backdrop that the Modi government launched a new urban renewal mission — AMRUT, to rejuvenate 500 cities, targeting two crore urban households, with an allocation of Rs 50,000 crore. Simultaneously, a mission to develop a hundred smart cities was launched at a cost of Rs 98,000 crore. These twin missions were supplemented by the ‘Housing For All’ mission to build two crore urban homes. Realising the need for massive funds, the government liberalised FDI norms and went ahead to accord infra status to affordable housing. This had the desired result, with FDI in real estate touching a record $5.7 billion in 2016.


Homelessness is actually a big problem in various parts of the globe not just in the US alone. Many nations have been the face of poverty where people line up on the streets asking for alms and sleeping under the sun or rain. While we don’t know the circumstances why they end up living on the streets, let us not easily pass judgment on them and try to do our part in helping one human being reclaim their lost lives and be self-sufficient again. Governments are busy thinking of ways on how they can address the problem but we should also do our part in extending help in whatever way we can. Let our random acts of kindness inspire others to help and pitch in because humanity still isn’t lost, after all.

Clear The Streets Of The Homeless Find more on: ET Blog


All You Music Fans, Taylor Swift Is Back

It’s been a while since we last heard Taylor make some really good music. And if you’ve been on the radar over the past decade or so, Taylor Swift’s name has been racking up awards and selling millions of copies …

The post All You Music Fans, Taylor Swift Is Back was originally published to The Euro Toques Blog