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Tuesday, 10 April 2012 13:55

Hackers can control your implants

Written by Nick Farrell



Security experts warn of malware


Insecurity experts have warned that many medical implants are vulnerable to cyber attacks that could endanger their users' lives. While an increasing number of patients are being fitted with devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps to manage chronic conditions apparently the inventors did not think anyone would be evil enough to try and hack them.

For some reason they installed unprotected wireless links so that they could be updated easily.  Which also means that hackers could gain remote control of such implants because they rely on unprotected wireless links to update them. After gaining access to the device, a cyber criminal could then switch it off or tell it to deliver a dangerous dose of medicine to the patient.

Researchers said although there hadn't been any known attacks to date, far more work is needed to protect implants from malicious actions. Barnaby Jack, an analyst at security firm McAfee, has revealed how he was able to hijack a well-known make of insulin pump within two weeks by hacking its radio signals using a small antenna. He was also able to disable security alerts that warn the user something is awry. The hacker can take it out from 100 metres away.

Nick Farrell

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