Implantable Devices are Susceptible to Hacking

While it may seem like science fiction, implantable medical devices such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and even devices designed for the treatment of epilepsy could be hacked. While it would be nice to think that devices buried deep within the body are secure, security research released at DefCon demonstrated otherwise.

While it has been known for many years that various devices such as microwaves and iPods can interfere with communications of biomedical devices, no one looked at this as a means of attack since these devices don’t offer a method of direct communication and send data to the outside world by means of radio frequency telemetry.

Just as with cordless phones, Bluetooth, and WLAN technology, these devices can be eavesdropped on. What’s even worse, there’s potential that someone could send rouge instructions to an implanted device by intercepting the device’s wireless signal and then broadcasting a different signal. When a computer fails, you reboot it, but when a pacemaker fails, someone may die. 

While this may seem far fetched, attackers will always think outside the box. Someone may consider such activity as an act of sabotage to inflict financial or personal injury, target government officials or military leaders, or as an attack by a disgruntled employee. More care must be placed into building strong security into all electronic devices as we increase our dependency on them.

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