The FDA is warning that implanted medical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators could be hacked and subject to cyber attack.
“They’re basically telling the people that make these devices that they need to be more careful,” says Dr. Dean Sittig, a professor of biomedical informatics at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. “All these devices are now on the internet and you wouldn’t want someone that’s writing a virus that could bring down your email to bring down your pacemaker.”
The warning issued by the FDA was sent to medical device manufacturers, medical professionals and biomedical engineers. Their notice said the agency had recently been made aware of cyber-security vulnerabilities and recommended practitioners issue appropriate safeguards.
“The point was that a lot of people don’t realize these medical devices have a computer in them,” Sittig told KTRH. “A lot of these devices are connected to a network just like your cell phone is. You cell phone is no longer just a phone - it’s a computer that’s connected to a network that you happen to talk on.”
The FDA says it is not aware of information on any targeted devices. Among their recommendations is that device-makers be vigilant in all aspects of production and limit access to their products if unguarded.