Internet connectivity doesn’t just keep people informed, but it also keeps them alive. Today’s medical devices can offer important data to medical authorities which allows them to detect any malfunction in due time. These tools include heart devices as well, without which many patients couldn’t survive. However, this vital perk comes with a great vulnerability to hacking.
Last Monday, Federal authorities declared that implantable heart defibrillators and pacemakers from St. Jude Medical are susceptible to cyber breaches. The public safety notice stated that the online communication network from the St. Jude Medical presents some vulnerable points. Due to these system weaknesses, a hacker can go past the digital security and intervene with medical devices. This way, they can change commands in pacemakers that are connected to someone’s heart.
These findings were discovered by an investment firm in August. The possibility of a cyber attack can put in jeopardy the lives of anyone who has an implanted medical device. However, the authorities declared that there are no recorded cases of a hacker voluntarily harming a patient from a distance. If this were to happen, the patient would have suffered from sudden electric shocks or the batteries of their pacemakers could have run out of energy.
St. Jude Medical has just been acquired by Abbott Laboratories in Illinois for $23 billion. The new leadership represented by Phil Ebeling executive announced that the security breach could be fixed with a new software update. The organization will proceed immediately to upgrading all their medical devices and systems to the new update.
The announcement met great criticism from the investment company that was the first to notice the issue. The recent FDA announcement in regards with the potential vulnerability of St. Jude products confirms this criticism. Carson Block, the founder of the investment company, Muddy Waters, is of the opinion that the new software update cannot fix all the present issues. The hackers can still take hold of a universal code that can be used as a key to the commands of any implant. However, Muddy Water can be in a biased position considering the fact that it owns some St Jude Medical stock.
So far, St. Jude assured the public that their cyber security is going through continuous improvements. In the last three years, there were implemented seven security patches. There is going to be installed an eighth one next Monday.
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