Network firewalls date back to the late 1980s, when people discovered the hard way that some people realized the Internet was a great place for international mischief.

Some 25 years later, people are thinking about putting firewalls in heart monitors.

It’s a sad comment on our times, but that’s one of the things that came out this week at a conference in Texas on electronic design.

According to a report from Network World U.S., a panel of university researchers said security for all sorts of medical equipment is disgraceful, even among devices that use common operating systems like Windows XP that in theory are easily upgraded.

One problem, apparently, is that institutions are timid about letting anyone touch the software of what are admittedly sensitive machines. On the other hand, regulators don’t make it easy do patching.

But with an increasing number of wireless medical devices coming on the market, firewalls and encryption are becoming as important as the analytics in the devices themselves.

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