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Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

Posted September 08, 2011 7:05 AM

Implant hacking is making medical waves in the U.S. again. The revelation by a security expert that he could breach safeguards on his own insulin pump prompted a petition to the U.S. General Accountability Office to review wireless device safety. Is the time ripe for uniform regulatory and industry standards concerning implant security?

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#1

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/08/2011 10:33 PM

That clown is simply Darwin in action. What do you want to do? Save him from his own willful stupidity? I do doubt, that it is even possible. Same is applicable to your halfbaked idea.

Now, if the question would be about wireless link reliability.....

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/09/2011 3:20 PM

He purposely hacked his own insulin pump to signal "that the technology being used by at least some medical device manufacturers does not offer an adequate array of security safeguards."

"..the hacking avenue was the wireless remote."

What's half-baked about considering safeguards?

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#3

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/09/2011 6:12 PM

OK. I expand to explain better.

In the electronics industry - where I have a couple decades under the belt - standards are set in voluntary associations under the umbrella IEEE. Every member is free to go its own way, but winning market share is not likely. Voluntary standards work fine. For example, to succeed in household electronics and components the UL (Underwriter Laboratories) label is essential for electrical safety. A version of the same exists for medical devices with much higher requirements. Without passing it, a device cannot (successfully) be marketed, as nobody wold touch it with a 10 foot pole, myself included. That would be an open invitation for suits by plaintiffs, and getting sky high rate insurance as a punishment. No sane person or outfit crosses that line.

Now, breaking and entering computer controlled devices is not a clearcut case at the first blush.

Break into a bank , electronically, and you end up in a small cell for some time.

Kevin Mitnick broke into telecommunication. Still got a few years.

If I break my computer or TV that way, who cares.

Your friend's case can be seen both way. A favorable view is when one discovers a defect. The company - if smart - fixes it promptly, and compensates handsomely. Good, cunning testers do not grow on trees. The unfavorable view is, when he spreads the word, and other wiseguys hurt themselves by copying. Then, he is in a world of hurt. If a chemo, morphine etc. pump get modified by cracking open the housing, or electronically, and passed along to the next patient as intact, he better be in a world of hurt, pronto! There are investigations and laws for that kind of behavior already, thank you.

If a device is outright defective, with consequences, the company gets a fat suit in its collective lap. It straighten them out in a hurry.

You might have noted by now, that new rules and laws are notable by their absence in my slicing and dicing. The benchpolishing paperpushers contribute as well as FEMA during Katrina IMHO. And I have no particular dislike for that outfit.

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#4

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/09/2011 6:19 PM

Freescale offers hardware and software solutions to implement medical application devices. In the webpage www.freescale.com/medical you can find application notes, reference designs, microcontroller solutions and more. Some of the featured applications supported by Freescale are the electrocardiograph, blood glucose meter, blood pressure monitor, pulseoximeter and spirometer.

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#5

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/13/2011 9:28 AM

I'm sure a few ounces of explosive would also dissable the device, so should it be armour plated?
The point is surely about reasonable safeguards.
E.G. Devices need to be imune from the ambient electromagnetic interferrence.
You hadly expect it to be able to work inside the Large Hadron Collider. There are plenty of spec's for EMC and I expect the device meets them.

Same as your car, you don't want it to start missbehaving in use, but of course the engine management system can be accessed and 'hacked'
Del

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#6

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/14/2011 12:37 PM

I agree with Sue - what's wrong with safeguards.

It's all well to say, make it secure against ambient interference. But we are living in a world of hacks. The ambient culture is one of attacks on electronic devices of all kinds. And surely no one believes that we live in a world free of malice.

In the case of a medical implant, the hack could cause physical harm or even death. If the risk isn't even considered or assessed, the individual who depends on a specific device could be deliberately assaulted, tormented, or murdered - depending on the nature of the device and the implications of a malfunction.

This might also be a crime that could be easily covered up if the possibility is ignored - attributed to a fault in the device or an 'accidental' malfunction. If the opportunity exists, to commit a crime with impunity, it will sooner or later be committed - it's that simple.

At minimum there should be something onboard of the device to document the origin of any signal that changes the parameters which have been set by the doctor or user. And maybe something to alert the user (and/or doctor) that the parameters have been changed. If a hack is going to be traced or at least identified, there's less opportunity to use this as a means to the 'perfect crime'.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/14/2011 12:51 PM

Might I suggest a KrisDelTM anti paranoia implant? With free fitting, via our patented arrow delivery system.
If you don't buy one, we send the boys round.
Del

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/14/2011 1:24 PM

ha ha you saucy cat.

I will now turn off adjust your ignorant-bliss implant...

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/15/2011 4:03 AM

Awarding a GA seemed wrong...so I increased the OT count instead

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/15/2011 6:17 AM

... I believe I once held the OT count record, but it's been lost in the mists of time.
Del

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Concern Over Wireless Implants Continues

09/15/2011 8:03 AM

Yeah, it was something like 10 ! Can't recall what/where, but jealousy would prevent me saying it's location anyhow.

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