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Hacker could use pacemaker to eavesdrop or to kill

Jean-Michel

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The other day while writing a text Cyberwarfare: hackers support the troops I had a sick idea! In the article I said that hackers could hack everything using a computer and or a satellite. So I started to think about everything that can be hacked. My first thought was missile, but after a while I thought about cardiac implant! Can they be hacked? I did some research and I found out that they can.

It is possible for doctors to access modern pacemaker with a short-range radio signal. This system allows them to store the patient information, monitor its vital-sign and upgrade the pacemaker version. The communication between the pacemaker and the control device is also unencrypted; this means that a person with the correct equipment can access all the info and even change the software inside the pacemaker.
In a paper published, Kevin Fu says : “Manufacturers point out that IMDs have used radio communication for decades, and that they are not aware of any unreported security problems. [...]it would be foolish to assume that IMDs are any more immune to malware[..]. Much like Mac users can take comfort in that most malware today takes aim at Windows applications, patients can take comfort in that IMDs seldom rely on such widely targeted software for now.”

Kevin Fu and its team have developed a device that can access to a pacemaker and reprogram it. The size of the device is similar to a cell phone and has a range of 10 meter They used it to reprogram a pacemaker installed inside a block of meat to demonstrate the exploit. After the reprogramming, the pacemaker could not go back in sleep mode and drained its batteries in days instead of years.


Hopefully, there never was any known attack of this type and with the demonstration of the attack, Fu and his team also proposed solution to make implants more secure. By doing so they might have contributed to save lots of life. If you have a peacemaker, don’t freak out. The chances that you find yourself at 10 meter of someone that has the knowledge to do such equipment, an intense knowledge of pacemaker and the will to kill for no reason, is very low. I’m sure there is more chances that you meet someone that has the will to kill people for no reason but with a gun.

For more information about the experimentation check
http://www.secure-medicine.org/icd-study/icd-study.pdf
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