Noreen Seebacher

Big Data Is Breaking Our Hearts

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Lyndon_Henry
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Re: Medical device hacking
Lyndon_Henry   7/12/2013 11:34:01 PM
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..

Noreen writes

A hacker messing with your medical device can make you sicker, or even put you at risk of death.

The FDA has issued an alert recommending that medical device manufacturers and health- care facilities take steps to assure that appropriate safeguards are in place to reduce the risk of failure due to cyberattack. Such attacks can result from malware sent directly to the medical equipment or by unauthorized access to configuration settings in medical devices and hospital networks.

At this point, the alert is strictly a warning—the FDA is not aware of any patient injuries or deaths associated with hacking, nor does it have any indication that any specific devices or systems in clinical use have been purposely targeted.

Thoughts please?


 

Well, Noreen in her blog describes the Homeland plot involving the death of the (fictional) VP which "was the terrifying result of a pacemaker sent into super-fibrillation by a 20-something terrorist located continents away using his laptop and a stolen serial number to hack the wirelessly controlled medical device and instruct it to kill its host..."

Noreen then notes: "And even though some medical professionals, including Dr. Charles Lampe, a cardiac electrophysiologist in Dallas, claim such a scenario is 'very, very unlikely,' there may be real reasons for concern."

When I first read it, my reaction to this cardiac electrophysiologist's assessment was that  "very, very unlikely" does NOT mean "never" or "impossible".

Still, if you need a pacemaker, you probably should go ahead and get one, particularly if you're not the VP.

 

Noreen Seebacher
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Medical device hacking
Noreen Seebacher   7/2/2013 12:47:57 PM
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I should say "told you so." But I won't.

A hacker messing with your medical device can make you sicker, or even put you at risk of death.

The FDA has issued an alert recommending that medical device manufacturers and health- care facilities take steps to assure that appropriate safeguards are in place to reduce the risk of failure due to cyberattack. Such attacks can result from malware sent directly to the medical equipment or by unauthorized access to configuration settings in medical devices and hospital networks.

At this point, the alert is strictly a warning—the FDA is not aware of any patient injuries or deaths associated with hacking, nor does it have any indication that any specific devices or systems in clinical use have been purposely targeted.

Thoughts please?

kq4ym
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Data Doctor
Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
kq4ym   1/11/2013 9:34:39 AM
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It is amazing how fiction writers can come up scenarios that evetually can be truelife adventures. Anything that only seemed to be fantasy eventually comes to be fact.

I would suppose the CIA and other agencies regularly employ science fiction writers, and others with fertile imaginations just to come up with ideas to research like this one.

BethSchultz
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Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
BethSchultz   1/9/2013 9:32:47 AM
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Good thing you like berries, Lyndon! But will your cave have Wi-Fi?

Hospice_Houngbo
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Prospector
Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
Hospice_Houngbo   1/9/2013 7:01:54 AM
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@Lyndon_Henry,

I understand and share your position: No need to blow things out of proportion. The probability that pacemaker "hacking" would happen is very low and the advantages of using the device outweigh all potential threats.

Hospice_Houngbo
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Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
Hospice_Houngbo   1/9/2013 6:54:20 AM
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@Alexis,

"Why does it have to be a wireless pacemaker? Why not opt for the old fashioned kind?"

Wireless pacemakers are smaller and lighter than the old fashioned kinds. Besides the old ones have wires that make them difficult to handle. 

Alexis
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Data Doctor
Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
Alexis   1/8/2013 6:46:03 PM
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Why does it have to be a wireless pacemaker? Why not opt for the old fashioned kind?

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
Lyndon_Henry   1/8/2013 6:13:25 PM
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..

Beth writes


But how much of a concern is this for the average Joe, even the average Joe with a pacemaker? I can see the elderly guy telling his doctor he refuses to have a pacemaker installed for fear of it being used by terrorists to kill him. Next stop: pysch eval!


 

I tend to agree with Beth's implication that fear over wirelessly hijacked pacemakers may be overblown.  It seems possible, but in the scheme of things, fearing implantation of a pacemaker itself when it's medically necessary would seem far more dangerous.

If a terrorist wanted to do some damage, a magnetic bomb could potentially do far more, depending on its size and scale.  A substantial one could knock out a city's power system, shut down all transportation (except, say, bicycles and skateboards), shut down all medical devices, including implanted ones like pacemakers, shut down all battery-operated devices...

Wow ... With that possibility hovering over me, I'd better make plans to get back to the cave and resume a subsistence life based on hunting and perhaps grubbing...

 

bulk
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Data Doctor
Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
bulk   1/7/2013 2:56:33 PM
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I have to agree that the ability to attack multiple devices is pretty scary. Even more so if this kind of thing can be done in an automated manner.

Could the serial numbers of these devices become information for sale to the highest bidder wanting to stage an attack on random americans? pretty scary stuff when you think about it.

BethSchultz
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Blogger
Re: The tech. is new but the threats...not really
BethSchultz   1/7/2013 2:52:52 PM
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But how much of a concern is this for the average Joe, even the average Joe with a pacemaker? I can see the elderly guy telling his doctor he refuses to have a pacemaker installed for fear of it being used by terrorists to kill him. Next stop: pysch eval!

 

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