UMass Computer Scientist On The Case Of Hackable Pacemakers

Hackable pacemakers? Not quite yet. But the next generation of implanted defibrillators (pacemakers) will be wireless-programmable and communicate data over the Internet. What does that mean? Susceptibility to hacking... which, as you might imagine, can open confidential medical information to the public and even cause physical harm to the pacemaker patient.

But Kevin E. Fu, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) at Amherst is on top of the issue right now, before it becomes a problem. He is the scientist who, along with colleagues at the University of Washington and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, discovered that certain devices could be compromised. Ingeniously, the researchers made this discovery by reverse engineering an implanted cardiac device to prompt malfunctions.

No device has been hacked because the current data is confidentially stored in medical clinics, so you are fine if you have a pacemaker. But the new generation of implanted defibrillators will be optimal for patients and doctors because your doctor will be able to monitor you wherever you are through the Internet and be able to re-program your device, if necessary, by wireless directive to the device.

Medical miracles are not without drawbacks, and that is why Dr. Fu has just been awarded a three-year grant by the National Science Foundation to make sure that the future security of implanted cardiac devices is safe, without compromising their effectiveness.

source: News release, UMass

Keeping you posted....