Can hackers target a pacemaker?
It seems, there are no devices, which are hacker-safe any longer — from ATMs, cars, smartphones to medical devices. Though, it may sound like a plot of a crime thriller, serious investigations and experiments have revealed that medical implants like — pacemakers and insulin pumps are vulnerable to cyber attacks that could endanger their users’ lives.
As per the findings published in a paper, Pacemakers and Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators: Software Radio Attacks and Zero-Power Defenses, implantable medical devices (IMD) — devices implanted inside the human body — use embedded computers and wireless radios making them vulnerable to hacking. These IMDs include pacemakers, Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs), neurostimulators, and implantable drug pumps, which use embedded computers to monitor chronic disorders and treat patients with automatic therapies. For instance, an ICD that senses a rapid heartbeat can administer an electrical shock to restore a normal heart rhythm, and later report this event to a healthcare practitioner who uses an external device with wireless capabilities to extract data from the ICD or modify its settings.