Security Experts:

Critical Flaws Expose Natus Medical Devices to Remote Attacks

Researchers at Cisco Talos have identified several critical vulnerabilities that expose Natus medical devices to remote hacker attacks. The vendor has released firmware updates that patch the flaws.

The vulnerabilities allow remote code execution and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and they impact the Natus NeuroWorks software, which is used by the company’s Xltek electroencephalography (EEG) equipment to monitor and review data over the network.

According to Cisco, an attacker with access to the targeted network can remotely execute arbitrary code on the device or cause a service to crash by sending specially crafted packets. An attack does not require authentication.

“Vulnerable systems are searched for by attackers as points of ingress and persistence within computer networks. A vulnerable system can be compromised by threat actors, used to conduct reconnaissance on the network, and as a platform from which further attacks can be launched,” Talos warned.

Remote code execution on vulnerable Natus devices is possible due to four different functions that can cause a buffer overflow. All of the code execution flaws have been rated “critical” with CVSS scores of 9 or 10. The DoS vulnerability, rated “high severity,” is caused by an out-of-bounds read issue.

Cisco said it reported the vulnerabilities to Natus in July 2017, but the bugs were only confirmed in October. The flaws have been tested on Natus Xltek NeuroWorks 8 and they have been patched with the release of NeuroWorks 8.5 GMA2.

Healthcare facilities that use the affected products have been advised to install the update as soon as possible. The risk of attacks involving these vulnerabilities is relatively high considering that the devices are widely deployed – Natus was recently reported to have a 60 percent share in the global neurodiagnostic market. Furthermore, Cisco has made available technical information for each of the vulnerabilities.

The healthcare industry has been increasingly targeted by malicious actors, including in attacks involving ransomware and theft of sensitive information. The infosec community and authorities have issued numerous warnings, and recent reports show that there are plenty of healthcare product vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit in their operations.

Related: Healthcare's Unique Cyber Risk Management Challenges

Related: Why Healthcare Security Matters

Related: "Philadelphia" Ransomware Targets Healthcare Industry

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.