CIA Triad for Medical Devices

In this blog post we are going to examine how the CIA Triad for medical devices is used to strengthen information security and cybersecurity. The CIA Triad is a model designed to guide policies for information security within an organization. The CIA Triad combines the three fundamental information security principles of confidentiality, integrity and availability. Together this triad is considered the core underpinning of information security.

What is the CIA Triad?


 refers to an organization’s efforts to keep its data private and secure. This is a basic principle of security, whether or not it’s related to software products or the digital world. By its very nature, confidential data has an intrinsic value and is a prime target for cyber attackers. Threats include direct attacks such as stealing passwords and capturing network traffic, and more layered attacks such as social engineering, phishing and ransomware.

The healthcare sector is one in which protecting client’s private data is of the utmost importance. Not only do patients expect and demand that healthcare providers protect their privacy, there are strict regulations governing how healthcare organizations manage security.


In everyday usage, integrity refers to the quality of something being whole or complete. In terms of information security, integrity is about ensuring that data has not been tampered with and whether it can be trusted. In other words, integrity measures how well protected information is from unauthorized alteration.

Integrity can be compromised due to harmful attacks but also through human error and negligence which results in information becoming insecure or available to unauthorized third parties. Integrity is especially critical in medical device cybersecurity as tampered or unauthorized access of medical products can put patient’s lives at risk. For example, if breached data is related to a patient’s medical records, a threat actor could change certain information such as a patient’s drug dosage, prescription or blood type. Such a breach could prove fatal.


In order for an information system to be useful to an organization and its customers it must be available to authorized users. Simply put, availability means that networks, systems, and applications are up and running. This component of the CIA Triad measures uninterrupted access to the system. Some of the most basic threats to availability include hardware failures, unscheduled downtime, network bandwidth issues, and those interruptions that come as a result of malicious attacks.

Within the healthcare sector, an outage could prevent hospitals from being able to treat patients. In other sectors, a lack of availability can lead to financial loss but in the medical sector, it can affect patients’ safety. Keeping data backed-up and encrypted provides a safety net so that organizations can get back up and running quickly in the event of a large-scale cybersecurity breach.

CIA Triad for Medical Devices

Importance of CIA Triad for Medical Device Cybersecurity

The CIA Triad is a common, respected model that forms the basis for the development of security systems and policies. Every security control and every security vulnerability can be viewed in light of one or more of these key concepts. For a security program to be considered complete, it must adequately address the entire CIA Triad. The understanding that confidentiality, integrity, and availability can grant your organization additional protections allows you to be more resilient and secure.

The key thing to understand is that all three of these components of the CIA Triad apply to the medical device security conversation.

  • Cyberattacks against confidentiality can compromise sensitive patient data.
  • Cyberattacks against integrity can mean patients can receive the wrong care, which could prove fatal.
  • Cyberattacks against availability (outages) can prevent patients from receiving any care altogether for an indefinite period of time. This of course could have serious consequences.

To ensure that medical devices are safe and secure it is important to fully consider the CIA Triad. This approach allows medical device manufacturers to get a more complete, 365-degree view of their products. It is a fundamental part of strengthening an organization’s cybersecurity posture. As more and more connected medical devices are being produced with the inherent capacity to be networked, it’s important to routinely consider the CIA Triad in the development process.


Read the Latest Medical Device Cybersecurity Industry News

On May 12, US President Joe Biden issued an
Executive Order on strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure. This order followed a string of high-profile cyber-attacks that have taken place in the last 18 months. This includes those carried out against Twitter, Zoom, Marriott International, Magellan, Toll Group, Garmin, and, most notably, SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline. Read more about Biden’s Executive Order and the impact it will have on the medical device industry.