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December 2013 Vol. 15 / No. 10

Wi-Fi connectivity puts pressure on medical device security

The convenience and workflow improvements attained from using wireless medical devices come at a steep price. These types of devices are especially susceptible to being hacked or infected with malware. At Black Hat 2011, security consultant Jay Radcliffe  wirelessly manipulated the functionality of an insulin pump, sending shockwaves through the industry. Other demonstrations soon followed, raising alarms about wireless medical devices that can be hacked and put patient lives at risk. The Showtime series Homeland brought widespread attention to this issue by depicting the assassination of the vice president of the United States via hacking and manipulation of his pacemaker. The possibilities are real. Malicious threats are as relevant to wireless medical devices as they are to any other networked IP device. Medical device misconfiguration puts other devices on the hospital's network at risk. These risks need to be understood, documented and managed. This issue has enough attention that the Wi-Fi Alliance, the FDA and the ...

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