Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Is a Hacked Pacemaker Capable of Mass Murder?

When you are a patient in a hospital, you tend to expect that the electronics are either top of the line or at least functioning correctly. You expect that the devices doctors implant in your body are reliable and safe. These seem like safe assumptions.

Unfortunately, you could be mistaken.

There is a very low level of security on medical devices and medical equipment, leaving them vulnerable to malware and hacking, and the person taking the unknown risk is the patient.

Luckily, the risk has been relatively low, particularly when compared to the medical advantages the technology provides. Unfortunately, as researchers and professional hackers begin to discover to what extent the devices can be hacked, it’s possible those with more sinister plans will see the security gap as an opportunity.

Implanted Devices
In a presentation that seems to belong in a horror film and not at a conference, Barnaby Jack, an IOActive researcher at the BreakPoint Security Conference in Melbourne, Australia, demonstrated that he could reverse-engineer a pacemaker to change from a life-saver to a weapon.

The problem is that updates used to be provided to the device by a medical professional who had to be within a few inches of the patient, according to CIO. However, because of the increase in wireless technology, the inches have expanded to a larger radius, leaving the devices vulnerable to more attacks.

1 comment:

Alexis Kiley said...

How utterly heartbreaking to learn of this!
May those who must have implants to forever safe from the unkind soul who means to do such harm.

All my best,