Patient Safety at Risk from Hacking and Malware
New research finds that the pacemakers of some medical device manufacturers have a programming defect that allows them to be commanded to deliver a fatal shock from a laptop as far as 50 feet away.
Inadequate software programming and a shift toward wireless devices whose wider transmitting range makes a remote hack possible are to blame for putting patient lives at risk, reports ComputerWorld. But the problem hardly ends with pacemakers.
Patients are also potentially at risk from malware infections of computerized hospital equipment that clog monitoring equipment and other critical software systems. Although no injuries have been reported due to malware infections, experts state that the problems of medical-device security are rising, according to Technology Review.
During a medical-device panel at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Information Security & Privacy Advisory Board, it was described how malware could slow down fetal monitors that are used on high-risk pregnancies in intensive care wards, writes Technology Review.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in September that warned computerized medical devices were vulnerable to hacking, which poses a security threat to patients. The GAO report asked the FDA to address the problem focusing mainly on threats to two kinds of wireless implanted devices—implanted defibrillators and insulin pumps.
According to Technology Review, these devices are highly susceptible to attacks, but so far there have been no reported incidents of injuries.