If you’re a diabetic living with the aid of an insulin pump and a blood-sugar monitor, running out of batteries with no replacements handy might be your worst nightmare, but a recent report from a security researcher states tells us we might have more to worry about. According to Jay Radcliffe, a security researcher who is suffering from diabetes, insulin pumps and blood-sugar monitors aren’t out of reach for hackers. He recently experimented on his own equipment and presented his findings with The Associated Press before releasing them at the Black Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas.
Radcliffe has managed to identify flaws that could allow attackers to remotely control insulin pumps and alter the readouts of blood-sugar monitors. This meant that hackers could control the amount of insulin (a hormone they need for proper metabolism) that was being pumped into them. Having too little or too much insulin is dangerous for a patient and can even lead to death.
Because the industry believes that medical devices are hard to hack and can only be done by extremely skilled people, not much thought has been given to protecting such devices from attackers. Another limitation is due to the size of such devices – most of them are too small (i.e. pacemakers) to even contain processors for encrypting communication signals.
With our world becoming increasingly reliant on modern technology, and hackers getting better by the day, let’s hope companies find a way to improve the security of these life-saving devices before it’s too late.