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Cybercriminals Can Now Hack Medical Devices

May 11, 2017
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It is such a strange thing to know how hackers now seem to be behind medical devices and not the credit card numbers and bank accounts! That sounds kind of weird and astonishing raising the question, ‘Why would they even want that?’

Jennifer Baker’s daughters have Type 1 Diabetes. Insulin is what help them to live; they wear insulin pumps that check their sugar levels numerous times a day and calculate their carbohydrates.

However, Jennifer learned long ago that her daughter, Madison, is having trouble in the particular pump that she uses. Also, Johnson & Johnson warned the patients of the chances about the radio frequency between the remote control that could be hacked; still, this seemed super messed up as the hacker had to be within the feet of Madison to access the signal. But, it was acknowledged later that her insulin pump is one of those medical devices that the government has identified as being weak.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a lot of alerts. The FDA alarmed that the wireless signals between St. Jude Medical’s pacemakers and their transmitters could be damaged. Plus it could result in quick battery exhaustion. It also found out that infusion pumps could be approached through a medical facility’s system.

Channel 9 anchor, Allison Latos then asked a security expert named Ali Alwan if the hackers can hurt or even kill someone by tapping into these devices. He answered, ‘It is possible. In theory, the risk is there to over-administrate a lethal level of a type of pharmaceutical to a person.’ He further added that controlling device is not the only concern. Medical data knows a lot about all of our details; our height, weight, the color of our eyes in many cases. And all this can contribute to impersonating someone’s identity with such descriptive information about them.

Hacking our health can also reach into someone’s wallet. Yes!

Latos then asked Carolinas Healthcare System and Novant about the measures one must take to protect a patient against medical hacking. And they stated:


Statement of Carolinas Healthcare System:

‘Carolinas HealthCare System follows industry and regulatory guidance in securing its clinical engineering devices.  We require that all vendor devices have security controls in place prior to delivery and we validate that those controls are present prior to the device’s use in our facilities. A second layer of protection is our enterprise security controls that exist at all of our facilities.  Those protections include network security, intrusion prevention, ongoing security testing and constant updating of defenses to protect against new threats.’

Statement of Novant Health:

At Novant Health, we are committed to protecting the privacy and security of our patients’ personal information and medical devices. Our health system continues to strategically invest in people, processes, training and technology to further strengthen our cybersecurity program.  We continuously monitor for potential threats and perform regular security risk assessments to identify and address organizational risks.’

Moreover, what is always recommended is to ask the doctor if the cyber security steps are in place in their office. Regulations must also be set to make deadlines for producers to fix the equipment liabilities and to alert patients.

Since then, Jennifer turned on a safety feature for her daughter’s pump. The pump now gives sensations whenever Madison gets medicines.

However, hackers have succeeded in targeting the medical industry apparently.

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