May 17, 2020

IBM Watson delves deeper into health: 6 initiatives to watch

Health Tech
4 min
IBM Watson is a cognitive system enabling a new partnership between people and computers.
Back in April, IBM Watson took a step deeper into the world of health care with the formation of a new business unit: Watson Health. The tech giant addi...

Back in April, IBM Watson took a step deeper into the world of health care with the formation of a new business unit: Watson Health. The tech giant additionally introduced a new cloud offering called the Watson Health Cloud, partnering with companies such as Apple, Johnson and Johnson and Medtronic.

Involved in the health care industry since the Watson technology was first introduced on the popular T.V. show Jeopardy! and deployed in the oncology department at Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2013, IBM has since been expanding upon its health care initiatives.

Recently, the company held a World of Watson symposium in New York City where they outlined a number of their upcoming projects and partnerships.

1. IBM will collaborate with more than a dozen cancer institutes.

Seeing as how this was IBM’s first entrance into health care, it makes sense for them to expand upon it. IBM is planning to help the institutes derive personal insights from cancer patients’ DNA, reducing the traditional process from weeks to minutes.

“Determining the right drug combination for an advanced cancer patient is alarmingly difficult, requiring a complex analysis of different sources of big data that integrates rapidly emerging clinical trial information with personalized gene sequencing,” Dr. Norman Sharpless, director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a statement. “We are partnering with IBM in an effort to solve this decision problem with the help of cognitive technology and to improve the decisions we make with our patients to maximize their chance for cure.”

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In addition to the University of North Carolina, initial partners in the trial include Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, BC Cancer Agency, City of Hope, Cleveland Clinic, Duke Cancer Institute, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska, McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, New York Genome Center, Sanford Health, University of Kansas Cancer Center, University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine,University of Washington Medical Center, and Yale Cancer Center.

2. Talkspace will use Watson to help match patients with therapists.

The text message-based therapy startup Talkspace will use IBM’s Watson to analyze customers’ text messages and attempt to draw insights about their personality that will help match them to the best possible therapist on the platform.

3. IBM Watson partners with Mayo Clinic and Epic.

Watson’s cognitive computing platform will integrate with Epic’s EHR, allowing doctors to use Watson for clinical decision support in the way that some cancer centers already do. The technology could help “develop patient treatment protocols, personalize patient management for chronic conditions, and intelligently assist doctors and nurses by providing relevant evidence from the worldwide body of medical knowledge, putting new insight into the hands of clinical staff,” IBM wrote in a release.

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“Accessing Watson’s virtual brainpower from the Epic platform is energizing from a creative standpoint,” Epic president Carl Dvorak said in a statement. “We are bringing another level of cognitive computing and augmented intelligence to mainstream healthcare, to improve safety and outcomes for patients globally.”

4. Colorado health system Centura Health adopts Cafewell Concierge.

Watson and Welltok produced Cafewell Concierge—an app that helps patients with questions about daily health management, cardiac rehabilitation exercises and activities, finding healthy recipes and dishes at local restaurants, educate them about their condition, and connect them to patient social networks. The app will be rolled out at the Centura Health Heart and Vascular Network, making it the first provider group to offer the app.

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5. to improve patient engagement by working with Watson.

The Patient Insights app offered by and powered by Watson “analyzes patient interactions to tailor future engagement based on personality insights,” according to an IBM press release. Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis is already trying out the app.

6. LifeLearn to apply Watson to veterinary medicine.

A new Watson-powered mobile app, Sofie, will help veterinarians identify potential conditions and practice evidence-based medicine in the treatment of animals. The Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic is using the software.

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Jun 17, 2021

Peloton vulnerable to cyber attacks, McAfee research finds

2 min
​​​​​​​Software security experts McAfee discovered exercise bikes by Peloton are vulnerable to cyber attacks, which the company have since resolved 

Peloton, the popular exercise bikes, were found to be vulnerable to cyber attacks in the latest research from McAfee. 

Peloton is a brand of electric bikes that combines high end exercise equipment with cutting-edge technology. Its products use wi fi to connect to a large tablet that interfaces with the components of the exercise device, and provides an easy way for physical activity enthusiasts to attend virtual workout classes over the internet several times a week.

Peloton has garnered attention recently around the privacy and security of its products. So McAfee decided to take a look for themselves and purchased a Peloton Bike+.

The problem

Researchers looked at the Android devices and uncovered a vulnerability  that could allow an attacker with either physical access to the Bike+ or access during any point in the supply chain to gain to hack into the bike’s tablet, including the camera, microphone and personal data. 

For the person using it there would be no indication the Bike+ has been tampered with, potentially putting Peloton’s 16.7 million users at risk.  

The flaw was found in the Android Verified Boot (AVB) process. McAfee researchers were able to bypass the Android Verified Boot process, which normally verifies all code and data before booting. They were then able to get the device to boot bypassing this step. 

This could potentially lead to the Android OS being compromised by an attacker who is physically present. Even worse, the attacker could boot up the Peloton with a modified credential to gain privileges, granting them access to the bike remotely. 

As the attacker never has to unlock the device to boot it up, there would be no trace of their access on the device. This type of attack could also happen at any point from construction to warehouse to delivery, by installing a backdoor into the Android tablet without the user ever knowing. 

The solution

Given the simplicity and criticality of the flaw, McAfee informed Peloton while auditing was ongoing. The vendor was sent full details,  and shortly after, Peloton confirmed the issue and released a fix for it. 

Further conversations between McAfee and  Peloton confirmed that this vulnerability had also been present on the Peloton Tread exercise equipment. 

Peloton’s Head of Global Information Security Adrian Stone, commented on the research: “This vulnerability reported by McAfee would require direct, physical access to a Peloton Bike+ or Tread. Like with any connected device in the home, if an attacker is able to gain physical access to it, additional physical controls and safeguards become increasingly important.

"To keep our members safe, we acted quickly and in coordination with McAfee. We pushed a mandatory update in early June and every device with the update installed is protected from this issue.”

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