Healthcare News & Insights

Congress calls for probe after insulin pump gets hacked

Here’s an IT security threat you probably never imagined you’d have to plan for: Hacked insulin pumps.

Jay Radcliffe, a security expert who also happens to be diabetic, did a little off-the-job research and discovered there are flaws in the pumps that would allow a hacker to remotely control them and alter the amount of insulin delivered to the patient.

While no real-life hacking attempts are known to have been made, Radcliffe warned that the capability is there for anyone so motivated. The discovery also raises concerns that other medical devices, such as pacemakers, deep-brain stimulators and an array of operating room devices that are built to be remotely controlled by patients and/or doctors, could also be at risk.

Most medical device manufacturers say the risk of such attacks is low, because only people with very specialized knowledge would be able to breach the devices’ security.

But some lawmakers are taking notice. Two members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), have written to the General Accountability Office to investigate how safe medical devices with built-in wireless connectivity are. You can see the letter here.

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