May 17, 2020

Nigeria fights Polio with technology

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Written by Alyssa Clark With telemedicine growing exponentially in a variety of healthcare fields, it is no wonder why countries all over the world ar...

Written by Alyssa Clark

 

With telemedicine growing exponentially in a variety of healthcare fields, it is no wonder why countries all over the world are capitalizing on its ability to help nations near and far. The most recent implementation and success of telemedicine is currently ongoing in Nigeria, where telemedicine has become a fundamental component in the Nigerian efforts to combat the nation’s fight against Polio.

Nigeria’s northern Kano state is known for Polio running rampant across the region, with dozens of international public health teams going door-to-door in hopes of conducting immunizations. In hopes of eradicating the spread of the terrible disease, all children under five are required to receive an immunization as part of a desperate final push to produce change. Doctor Mahmud Zubairu telecommutes as the coordinator of this vaccination project, and works remotely with those in Nigeria via real time state-of-the-art technology.

“It is now easy to monitor the immunization coverage of each vaccination team because the phone trackers each team carries along generate tracks which are sent via satellite to our website,” the medical doctor told AFP.

“That enables us to compute with a high degree of precision the number of houses the vaccinators have covered each day during a campaign”.

With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Dr. Zubairu works out of his office in the city of Kano to wipe of this horrendous epidemic. This phone-tracking technology was the idea of the WHO, but was funded by the charitable foundation to begin work on this potentially successful four year project. Kano has been targeted specifically due to its high prevalence of Polio, and since most parents in the region still reject the Polio vaccine. Many of the native people to the Kano region are suspicious of the immunization programs, with the number of home visits to administer vaccines at an all-time low.

"The tracking is all in a bid to increase vaccination coverage and ensure good supervision," said Zubairu.

The phone-tracking technology will help medical professionals target areas for increased vaccination programs, while also demonstrating the regions receiving vaccinations. The phone-tracking shows when a vaccination team stays at a location for more than 2 minutes, as well as the tracking system being able to determine what kind of location the team is visiting (i.e a house, school, or other public building).

"If no tracks are found in any box it means that house was not visited, and by that you can compute the number of houses covered and the percentage of coverage without being overwhelmed by the number of valid tracks generated in an area visited by vaccinators," Zubairu explained, “Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the world's last three countries where polio remains endemic and as such are the focus of efforts to eradicate the disease, which has also seen a sharp rise in Somalia and Syria as law and order and infrastructure broke down in both countries”.

 

About the Author

Alyssa Clark is the Editor of Healthcare Global

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Jun 17, 2021

Peloton vulnerable to cyber attacks, McAfee research finds

cyberattack
fitness
Cybersecurity
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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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