Hacking Ain't So 'Heartless' Anymore

Dennis Faas's picture

Hackers have often carried hidden agendas ranging from self-satisfaction to illegal monetary gain through identity theft. A new research project recently conducted in the U.S. shows that hackers have the power to cause much more damage to everyday people...including murder.

Oh my gosh!  How so?

It's because many people walk around with heart defibrillators and pacemakers. If hackers really wanted to, they could gain wireless access to both of these devices.

The research team was successful in reprogramming a combination defibrillator/pacemaker to shut down and deliver jolts of electricity that would have undoubtedly been fatal had it been inside of a human body. (Source: nytimes.com)

When Medtronic, makers of many leading electronic heart devices, manufactured their products, they embedded signals within their devices to give doctors the opportunity to monitor and adjust a patient's heartbeat without surgery. The research team had even managed to gain access to personal patient data simply by eavesdropping on these wireless radio signals and decoding them.

The purpose of the research project was to prove that too little attention was being paid to security flaws in the electronic medical equipment implanted in human bodies everyday.

While the project has revealed several horrific finds, the research team has assured that the hundreds of thousands of people who walk with defibrillators/pacemakers need not fear hackers anytime soon.

The project required in excess of $30,000 worth of lab supplies and all equipment that was used throughout the course of testing was never more than two inches away from the defibrillator/pacemaker. The project also needed a coalition of America's finest specialists gathered from the Universities of Washington and Massachusetts to decode the electronic signals. (Source: news.com)

Many believe that these factors would be too much of a deterrent for someone to actually hack into an artificial heart.

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