Medical implants are becoming more and more common. But as they get higher-tech, they also become more susceptible to hackers.
Millions of cyber-attacks are launched globally every day. We install software to protect our computers, but there is little protection for medical implants. Everything from cochlear implants to prosthetic limbs can be hacked.
“Insulin pumps. Morpheme pumps. There’s a lot of other neurotransmitters that are put in bodies to help with other kinds of issues. I find that kind of disturbing,” said Teresa Rule with RNT Professional Services.
Think of it; insulin pumps could be hacked to give patients a lethal overdose or pacemakers could be hacked to kill patients.
“A lot of those pacemakers depending on the technology and the way they’re implanted, do transmit through Bluetooth, do receive corrections from the cardiology office, not necessarily encrypted, so other signals can be sent via that bandwidth,” said Rule.
That’s why former Vice President Dick Cheney had the wireless disabled on his pacemaker. He feared terrorists could kill him with the click of a mouse.
“There is a way, however, to encrypt those pacemakers where they’re resistant to tampering and very few people have that encryption occur,” said Rule.
That’s why the folks at RNT Professional Services in Norman warn patients and doctors to keep an eye on cybersecurity and set up safeguards to protect devices.
“They’re not looking at ten years from now, how technology is going to change. And really the doctor’s job is to take care of them today and not really look at that long-term goal. But we ask them to think about it because when you’re putting technology into a person’s body, that’s a permanent implant. Permanent is a long time,” said Rule.