Is Your Medical Device a Hacking Risk?

More and more, Americans are relying on medical devices to extend and improve the quality of their lives. From insulin pumps to pacemakers, there is a medical device for every part of your body. Unfortunately, every one of them is vulnerable to hacking.

“We’ve yet to find a device that we’ve looked at that we haven’t been able to hack,” said Jonathan Butts, a cybersecurity researcher.

Medical devices have computers. Anyone who can hack a computer can hack into a medical device and take control, potentially putting the patient’s life in jeopardy. It is not even necessary to be in possession of the device. With a wireless signal, a hacker can control the device from a distance.

Devices at Risk

A pacemaker sends an electric signal to the heart to keep it beating at the proper rhythm. A hacker who took control of a pacemaker could turn it off, or command it to shock at the wrong rhythm.

An insulin pump delivers insulin into the body of a diabetic, which regulates their sugar. When sugar drops too low, a patient’s life is in danger. Anyone in control of an insulin pump could deliver a high dose of insulin to the patient and drive their sugar so low that the patient dies. These are just a few examples of the dangerous potential of medical device hacking.

A Slow Response

Some medical device companies have been slow to react and even tried to downplay the danger, but these potential threats have caught the attention the FDA. Medtronic, the manufacturer of the pacemaker which researcher Jonathan Butts successfully hacked, has finally issued software patches and recommended disabling some features of its insulin pumps. The company claims that its response time to reports of vulnerabilities is now much faster.

Despite company efforts, medical devices are still vulnerable to hackers with the right knowledge. While there have been no reported deaths due to hacking medical devices yet, the subject is a new frontier. The possibility of injury and death remains.

If someone hacked your medical device, you need a consultation with experts. You may be eligible for compensation. Contact the law offices of Regan Zambri Long today for a free consultation with people who care.