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The Vigilence of Cyber Security in Technology Enabled Care

The older analogue alarm systems presented a natural barrier to ‘cyber threats’, at least for end user devices. So, the shift to digital highlights a need for vigilance in terms of cyber and data security that cannot be ignored

by Steve Sadler, Associate Technical Lead at TSA


Telecare services has always demanded reliability in its underlying technology and data. Currently, most TEC services connect to end users across traditional phone lines. However, telecoms providers – the likes of BT and Virgin Media - are stating that these phone lines will disappear by 2025, that the switchover is already underway and we will all convert to digital telephony. The impact on the TEC sector could be significant - alarm systems need to be re-tested, upgraded or decommissioned. This presents a risk but also an opportunity for new digital enablement of care.

The advantage of the older analogue alarm systems is their presented natural barrier to ‘cyber threats’, at least for end user devices. So, the shift to digital highlights a need for vigilance in terms of cyber and data security. The Local Government Association commissioned TSA during 2018-2019 to research the state of ‘data and cyber security’ across the UK TEC sector. The research found that Alarm Receiving Centres can range between two extremes:

  • Those primarily using analogue systems, with limited exposure to new technologies, often dependent on software suppliers for their operational platforms and assurance of business continuity.
  • Organisations that are embracing the switch to digital, typically with strong business continuity arrangements. Data and cyber training is generally provided to all staff and IT skilled staff are on-site 24 hours.

The research also found that 76% of TEC services are part of larger organisations and benefit from ‘parent’ services (eg. housing association or council), although not always specialist in support for life critical alarm systems.

The number or organisations adopting fully digital services is low, where only 14% have adopted internet IP-connected devices at scale and adapted their systems, infrastructure and processes.

The study identified significant variation in the awareness and planning for data and cyber security, with emphasis on three particular threats:

  • internet-connected devices (protection against hacking of devices or SIM card misuse)
  • software applications (denial of use or data theft)
  • cyber or data incidents occurring within the Alarm Receiving Centres

The areas of highest risk to the TEC service provider organisations were identified as:

  • systems and processes for IT and data management (52% of organisations exhibited a ‘red risk’ rating)
  • network security (43% red risk rating)
  • technology management (43% red risk rating).

See the full report and recommendations published by the TSA here:

To hear more about the Digital Shift come hear the Experts Panel Debate ‘Citizen Powered Technological Enablement’ on Day 2 at 11:35 on Main Stage, Chaired by Paul Burstow, covering topics: Analogue to digital update – where are we now? How do you exploit digital and data in healthcare; Delivering digital at scale; Risks to data and cyber protection -


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