Officials Say Medical Devices Vulnerable to Hackers

Posted on April 24, 2012

We often think about how devastating a cyberattack or viral infection can be for our computers.  But could similar tactics be used by hackers to compromise the safety of medical devices?

The general consensus seems to be that such a hack is indeed possible, which is why the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Information Security and Privacy Board are recommending that the Food and Drug Administration or some such similar organization maintain cybersecurity standards that must be met by medical devices before they come to market.

The issue has come to the fore recently due to a number of examples which illustrate how precarious the situation might be.  Although the FDA hasn’t received a report of someone hacking an implanted medical device, a study from the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that malware had infected 173 medical devices between January 2009 and last spring.

Researchers with the Medical Device Security Center demonstrated how they were able to hack defibrillators and pacemakers way back in 2008.  And interest in the importance of security was renewed when, at a recent conference, a security researcher was able to wirelessly hack his own insulin pump and manually adjust the settings of the device.

I’m concerned about this vital issue as a San Bernardino personal injury lawyer.  Medical devices are incredibly important to maintaining a high standard of living for so many people across the world, and the fact that such devices could be hacked is a grave threat to safety.  I hope as a San Jose personal injury attorney that lawmakers act quickly to address this issue.

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