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Archive for August 23rd, 2020

Last week (17-21 August 2020) I had the pleasure of being staffing (trainer/facilitator) the first joint MDIC / FDA / MITRE Medical Device Cybersecurity Threat Modeling Bootcamp. The mind behind the training material was Adam Shostack. Originally planned as an in-person training, the pandemic forced a shift to on-line delivery.

The objectives of the bootcamp (from the MDIC site):

  • Intensive, hands-on sessions on threat modeling.
  • Learn about structured, systematic and comprehensive approach to threat modeling for engineering more secure systems from SMEs from public and private sector.
  • Learn the latest updates on medical device cybersecurity and related areas from representatives of FDA and industry.
  • Networking opportunity with SMEs from MedTech and non-MedTech sectors to learn on cybersecurity best practices that can be incorporated into the medical device industry
  • Contribute to the discussions on the development of Medical Device Threat Modeling Playbook

For anyone not familiar with Adam’s threat modeling training methodology, it is a highly interactive, small group focused training. When the training staff got together for three days in Washington, D.C. in February of 2020, this was the way we pre-flighted the bootcamp. To his credit, Adam deconstructed the material and re-envisioned it for a remote audience.

This first bootcamp had about sixty participants from across the medical device industry and include manufacturers, HDOs and regulators. The training provided a good introduction to the concepts of threat modeling and encouraged an appreciation of the needs of development, security, management and regulators. Instead the typical classroom style presentation followed by table-based group interactions, we had topic-based videos which the participants viewed in a dedicated on-line learning system, individual assignments, entire bootcamp presentations and group working sessions .

As an outcome of this bootcamp was to assist in the creation of a “playbook” for medical device threat modeling, the entire procedure was shadowed by members of the working group responsible for that effort.

So, what was my take-away as a trainer and practitioner?

Providing live distance learning is hard. The dynamic is completely different from in-person training. I’ve been taking remote live distance training classes since the proto-Coursera Machine Learning and Database classes from Stanford, nearly a decade ago. As a learner, the ability to stop the video and take notes and go back over things was invaluable. The lack of interactivity with the instructor was a drawback. This was my first experience on the other side of the screen. As a trainer and facilitator, keeping remote participants on-topic and on-schedule was challenging. Having the ability to use multiple computers (one for interaction [43″ 4K display] and another for staff side-channel discussion) was invaluable. In an in-person setting, I’d’ve had to leave the group or try and flag down another staff member, distracting from the flow.

Observationally, I think the dynamic of the participants is a bit diminished. Typically, you’d have breaks, during which participants would exchange ideas and make connections. At the end of the day, groups would have dinner together and discuss what they’re learned in greater detail.

I believe that, overall, the training was successful. My group indicated that they’d come away with a better understanding of threat modeling and a greater appreciation of the context in which the activity exists. We have another session coming up and I’m sure that it will incorporate all the lessons learned from this one. I’m looking forward to it.

The training is focused on threat modeling generally and so those not in the medical device industry would also profit from it. If you’re interested, I recommend that you visit the MDIC site linked above.

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