As we advance into the future, more and more medical devices are starting to go wireless. Patients are so far enjoying their new wireless technology because it allows them to be more mobile, rather than having to be tied down to the bed because of these medical machines. Also, it allows for “less invasive monitoring and treatment methods for common diseases has also improved patient mobility. Innovations have allowed at-home patient monitoring, minimizing patient trips to the hospital and saving valuable hospital space.”
This all seems well and good, but what people fail to realize that these machines are essentially computers, and can be hacked just like everything else. Barnaby Jack showed the ability to do this last February. For Jack’s example he hacked into the insulin pumps used by diabetics. With a wave of his antenna and a push of a button, Jack has the security credentials for the pump using a program that he wrote himself. His software then instructs the pump to slowly empty it’s insulin supply into the body which will most likely be fatal, especially if the patient doesn’t know until it’s too late. Currently insulin pumps and pacemakers are the two big wireless medical devices, but there are others as well.
Thankfully, no actual attack like this has ever happened on a patient in real life. However, that raises the question of when that will happen. All it takes is one mentally disturbed person with the right know how to execute this hack. Hackers have already caused physical pain to people before, when I hacking group filled the website Epilepsy Foundation with a bunch of epileptic flashing images, sending many into seizures. What’s even scarier is that there hasn’t been that much security put in place on these devices just yet. So far there has been a prototype firewall made by researchers at Purdue and Princeton… but that’s it. You have to wonder if it’ll actually take a person’s death before we see some regulation on these devices.