Medical Devices Susceptible to Hackers?


Recently there has been much buzz of the concern over the security of medical devices that have wireless capabilities. Pacemakers, Insulin pumps, and defibrillators all emit wireless signals much like computers do. The problem is that these signals don’t have the proper encryption to be secure. Some internal devices have a signal that transmits up to fifteen feet from the patient. The possibility of someone hacking into a medical device is life threatening. Although the likelihood of this happening is “extremely low” according to Medtronic’s spokeswoman, Wendy Dougherty- and although extremely low, the results could be deadly.

The FDA has put the responsibility of wireless security in their devices on the manufacturers themselves. Nathanael Paul, a reasearcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee states that suggestions have been made to tattoo security barcodes on a patient’s wrist so that in the event of an unconscious patient, treatment is still able to be rendered. He suggests that patients don’t want to be “inconvenienced” by security measures that may make daily tasks more difficult.

My big question after reading this article: “Is it more convenient to have to password protect your medical device (and possibly take other measures to ensure its security), or is it more convenient to be dead because your pacemaker was hacked and is now telling your heart to beat 300 times per minute?”

Harsh, I know, but our society is obsessed with the quickest and easiest ways to do everything, and when it comes to your health, are you willing to sacrifice?

What do you think?  What are YOUR ideas as to how we can make medical devices more secure?

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Medical Devices Susceptible to Hackers?

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