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Hackers Probe Medical Implants

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Beth Stackpole
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Scary proposition
Beth Stackpole   8/25/2011 11:10:23 AM
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A real eye opening post, Loring. What a scary proposition for patients, who can benefit so greatly from all of the advances around wireless and embedded technologies for medical implants. While it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to inflict such personal damage, it's not that far fetched and I'd expect to see far more focus around regulations, security controls, and technology advances to address the potential problem over time.

Loring Wirbel
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Re: Scary proposition
Loring Wirbel   8/25/2011 11:33:13 AM
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Beth, it surprises me that some security experts always want to "blame the messenger", similar to the way some Black Hat attendees chided Radcliffe for bringing the subject up.  Now, I can see why some people would not want the full details of the location of electrical grids published, as that might be a provocative act.  But is Radcliffe being provocative?  I don't think so.  Burying your head in the sand and pretending a problem doesn't exist, doesn't make it go away!

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Scary proposition
Jack Rupert, PE   8/25/2011 12:30:53 PM
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What is the range those devices?  I thought the "wireless" portion was basically to transfer through the skin, not across the room?  Or is this a case where the hacker builds a substantially powerful system to broadcast that distance and screw it up?  Time for aluminum foil underwear?

Loring Wirbel
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Re: Scary proposition
Loring Wirbel   8/25/2011 5:15:01 PM
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Depends on the device, many for updates on drug delivery etc. use an equivalent of near-field, but many use short-range PAN/Bluetooth systems for program updates.  That's where the danger (theoretically) lies....

Tim
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Re: Scary proposition
Tim   8/25/2011 9:51:42 PM
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I can see it possible to hack into a medical device.  It is hard to understand why other security experts would mock Radcliffe for mentioning the possibility of hacking medical implants.  So many hacking groups only get into things for the thrill of hacking a device not for monetary gain.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Scary proposition
Jack Rupert, PE   8/28/2011 2:51:17 PM
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I just thought that it could get even worse than that, Tim. If I remember right, VP Dick Cheney had a pacemaker. As medicine evolves and more things can get implanted, you could have some nutjob (or organized nutjobs) trying to mess up the health of important figures. (Sound like an idea for a novel that hasn't been done yet).

David McCollum
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Gold
Re: Scary proposition
David McCollum   8/29/2011 2:36:20 PM
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It is a frightening enough proposition to consider what might happen just from "accidental" issues, like activating the garage door opener and causing your device to pump an additional 20 units of insulin, or going through a tool booth reader and changing the setting on a pacemaker. If this were possible, and especially given data leaks concerning health records, it is a genuinely scary situation. As one of the others mentioned, if the enemy had the info on the top 20 political figures in a country, or even the world, and take them out simultaneously. Such a thing could create global chaos very quickly.

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