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Warnings Issued About Vulnerabilities in Philips PageWriter Cardiographs and IntelliVue Information Center iX

Over the past few months, several vulnerabilities have been discovered in Philips medical devices, software and systems.

This week, two further advisories have been issued by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Team (ICS-CERT) about vulnerabilities the firm’s real-time central monitoring system, Philips IntelliVue Information Center iX, and its PageWriter cardiographs. All three of the vulnerabilities are classed as medium risk with CVSS v3 base scores ranging between 5.7 and 6.1.

CVE-1999-0103 is a denial of service vulnerability that affects the Philips IntelliVue Information Center iX version B.02. The flaw was discovered by a user of the system and was reported to Philips, which in turn reported the vulnerability to the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center’s (NCCIC).

The vulnerability can be exploited remotely and does not require a high level of skill. If multiple initial UDP requests are made, it could compromise the availability of the device by causing the operating system to become unresponsive. The vulnerability has been assigned a CVSS v3 base score of 5.7.

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Philips has already put mitigations in place to reduce the potential for the vulnerability to be exploited. All PIIC iX B.02 users have been advised to read the labelling, instructions for use, and service guides, which detail compensating controls. A patch will be released to correct the vulnerability by the end of September 2018.

Two vulnerabilities have been identified by Philips affecting its PageWriter TC10, TC20, TC30, TC50, TC70 Cardiographs. The flaws are present in all versions prior to May 2018.

CVE-2018-14799 is an improper input validation vulnerability. The devices do not properly sanitize data entered by users, which could result in the triggering of a buffer overflow condition. If exploited, a threat actor could access and modify device settings. The vulnerability has been assigned a CVSS v3 base score of 5.9.

CVE-2018-1480 concerns the use of hard-coded credentials. To exploit this vulnerability an attacker would need physical access to the device and would require the superuser password. With the password and physical access it would be possible to change all settings on the device and reset all existing passwords. The vulnerability has been assigned a CVSS v3 base score of 6.1.

The PageWriter vulnerabilities will be addressed by Philips via a new release, but that will not be available until the middle of 2019.

Philips notes that the WinCE5 operating system on the PageWriter TC20, TC30, TC50 and TC70 is now obsolete and is no longer supported. TC50 and TC70 can be updated to WinCE7, which users can download from InCenter.

However, TC20 and TC30 do not support WinCE7 so customers have been advised to upgrade to TC50 if they are concerned about the obsolete operating system, otherwise Philips will be issuing an update for the TC20 to a supported operating system by the end of 2019.

In the meantime, Philips suggests physical security controls to prevent access to the devices, controlling access to system components to protect medical devices in the system, and the use of multi-factor authentication.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.