Hospitals, others reminded to patch PACS cyber vulnerabilities regularly

In an alert this week, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) reminded health care providers and researchers to patch any vulnerabilities in their Picture Archiving Communication Systems that could expose patient records to unauthorized access.

Hospitals and other providers widely use PACS to share and store patients’ radiology images and associated data. Cyber attackers can exploit vulnerabilities such as default passwords, hardcoded credentials and lack of authentication in third-party software to expose and manipulate PACS medical data, compromise connected clinical devices and spread malicious code to other parts of the network.

The Department of Homeland Security has identified at least 23 PACS systems and products affected by these vulnerabilities.

“This alert reminds us all of the need to fully understand and have full visibility of our clinical technology environments,” said John Riggi, AHA senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk. “That starts with network mapping, data mapping and ensuring all internet-facing devices housing sensitive data are fully secured — or disconnected from the internet.”

For more on this and other cybersecurity and risk issues, hospital and health system leaders may contact Riggi at