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Sunday, March 16, 2008

 

Hacking attacks can turn off heart monitors

‘American researchers have proven it’s possible to maliciously turn off individuals’ heart monitors through a wireless hacking attack.

Many thousands of people across the world have the monitors, medically known as implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), installed to help their hearts beat regularly.

ICDs treat abnormal heart conditions; more recent models also incorporate the abilities of a Pacemaker. Their function is to speed up a heartbeat which is too slow, or to deliver an electrical shock to a heart which is beating too quickly.

According to the research (pdf) by the Medical Device Security Center – which is backed by the Harvard Medical School among others – hackers would be able to intercept medical information on the patient, turn off the device, or, even worse, deliver an unnecessary electrical shock to the patient.

The hack takes advantage of the fact the ICD possesses a radio which is designed to allow reprogramming by a hospital doctor. The ICD’s radio signals are not encrypted, the Security Center said.’




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