Computers have been open to hacking attacks for years now, but most people generally think of the PC sitting on their desk, or a supercomputer tucked away in a bank vault, or cybercriminals hacking in to the Pentagon…
How about hacking medical devices designed to regulate a heartbeat?
Computer security researchers in the US found that it was possible to “hack” a Medtronic’s Maximo combination defibrillator and pacemaker, by placing it within two inches of some very expensive ($30,000 worth of) lab equipment and reprogramming it to either shut down or to deliver fatal jolts of electricity.
You’ll be pleased to hear that this device wasn’t fitted to a human heart. Well, duh.
Researchers emphasised that there was no current risk to the hundreds of thousands of people using such devices, though Tadayoshi Kohno, a lead researcher on the project, said, “the risks to patients now are very low, but I worry that they could increase in the future.”
Many medical devices are increasingly designed to be accessed wirelessly, even over the Internet, to make it easier for professionals to monitor a patient’s condition. Unfortunately, as with most technology, it’s never long before there’s some risk of abuse.
(Via New York Times)
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