In the Hands of Hackers, Your Pacemaker is a Murder Weapon

In the Hands of Hackers, Your Pacemaker is a Murder Weapon

Modern-day pacemakers and wearable health monitors connect to computer networks or the internet and can be infected with ransomware to provide hackers with access that could severely damage government departments and even the NHS.  In the US unprotected medical devices were infected with Wannacry and Medjack viruses in just this manner.

Poor cybersecurity is dangerous. If this is not handled professionally, people will die. Medical devices, connected homes and automobiles left unprotected will cause great harm. These warnings come from Nick Jennings, RAENG fellow, and Vice Provost at Imperial College London, where he is a professor.

If our systems are designed to be highly adaptable we can recover quickly when attacks occur. It’s no use to try to avoid attacks.  We have to survive attacks.  Medical devices in the internet age are vulnerable.  In the television series Homeland, the president was murdered when hackers tampered with his pacemaker, and it is well known that Vice President Dick Cheyney changed the settings on his pacemaker to prevent possible attacks.

A recent KPMG  Cyber Security Report by Paul Taylor, the UK Lead Partner, called for new regulations to protect devices connected to the internet. The Internet of Things is a reality and it improves society, but it developed ignorant of the threats we now face.  Recalls of medical devices where vulnerabilities were detected, focussed our attention on the dangers for the first time.

The report warned consumers to be secure and to never share their internet password with strangers. Professor Jennings is doubtful. Data security presupposes a level of data literacy now lacking in consumers. It is only if we teach it from primary school, that this will change, he says.

You should not even share your wifi password with friends and neighbors. Set up a guest network in the house. Your son’s friends might share the password with their friends, and they might all be hackers, you can never know. Let guest log in to the guest network.

Medical devices can open the door to hackers to penetrate the NHS for example. Any device connected to internal computer networks or the internet is vulnerable to attacks. And once the hackers gain access to these systems, they can do untold damage. Devastating damage can be done to the NHS if terrorists or an unfriendly nation state gained access to UK hospital and health services.

The Royal Academy of Engineering back up claims that cyberattacks can enable hackers to murder patients who have pacemakers or heart pumps with vulnerabilities.