According to a new study, medical devices including cardiac pacemakers can be hacked. These devices could be hacked for financial, personal, or political reasons. This research was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and it highlighted the possibility of medical devices being hacked. There has been a possibility of hacking these medical devices since around a decade.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has framed guidelines for better security of medical devices along with various legislative proposals.
Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, professor at the University of Kansas Hospital, said that cybersecurity starts with developing protected software from the outset and also requires integration of various stakeholders such as security experts, software experts and medical advisors.
Patients with pacemakers can be vulnerable to security threats if the batteries of their devices are depleted or overworked. These devices would then be unable to deliver required therapies in case of life-threatening situations. Hackers could possibly interrupt wireless communications. However, Dr. Lakkireddy believes that the possibility of attacking a cardiac implantable electronic device or targeting a particular patient is very low. What could happen is a ransomware or malware attack seriously affecting a hospital’s communication network and hampering communication. These cyber vulnerabilities occur quickly, so developers should closely monitor all these possibilities and must respond fast.
Dr. Lakkireddy cautioned about depriving a heart patient of the benefits of remote monitoring. There have been enough evidences of the advantages of remote monitoring considering that we are also aware of cardiac devices hacking.