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Keeping Pacemakers Safe From Hackers

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the blackest-of-black-hats dept.

Medicine 167

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control have now developed a scheme for protecting implantable medical devices against wireless attacks. The approach relies on using ultrasound waves to determine the exact distance between a medical device and the wireless reader attempting to communicate with it." I had no idea that things have gotten so bad that hearts are being hacked.

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And somewhere... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080048)

...William Gibson is smiling quietly to himself.

Re:And somewhere... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080496)

Who, oh, do you mean the draft dodging guy who smokes hashish and sleeps with hippie chicks while writing crazy ass cyberpunk drivel?

Re:And somewhere... (4, Informative)

Tsar (536185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081094)

Who, oh, do you mean the draft dodging guy who smokes hashish and sleeps with hippie chicks while writing crazy ass cyberpunk drivel?

I'm quite sure he's referring to William Gibson [wikipedia.org] , the Tony-Award-winning playwright and novelist who died last year at the age of 94, still writing. His best-known work is "The Miracle Worker," a true American stage classic.

Why anyone on Slashdot would refer to that other William Gibson is beyond me.

Re:And somewhere... (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081650)

The fact that he sleeps with hippie chicks places him head and shoulders over the average /.er

Hacking hearts (5, Funny)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080100)

If I could hack her heart, she'd really love me...

Re:Hacking hearts (3, Funny)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080288)

That's not love, it's angina.

Re:Hacking hearts (3, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080312)

You keep your filthy talk to yourself, mister!

Re:Hacking hearts (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080494)

You keep your filthy talk to yourself, mister!

Hey, now, that's unfair. I know Angina, she's a talented thespian with a very fine epidermis.

Re:Hacking hearts (4, Funny)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080648)

Hey, now, that's unfair. I know Angina, she's a talented thespian with a very fine epidermis.

What does her sexual orientation have to do with anything? You homophobic or something?

Re:Hacking hearts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080850)

FAIL

*Sigh* (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081392)

Way to miss the joke, moderators. Jayme was just playing along.

Re:Hacking hearts (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081108)

I think I've seen her.. there's a vas deferens between her left and right legs, right?

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

Haxzaw (1502841) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081254)

Can we mention cunning linguist in there somewhere?

Re:Hacking hearts (3, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081378)

Can we mention cunning linguist in there somewhere?

I don't need to stoop that low, as I am a master debater.

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081676)

Just shut up and hand me my tit sling

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081928)

Fine, just don't masticate with your mouth open ...

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081354)

Hey, now, that's unfair. I know Angina, she's a talented thespian with a very fine epidermis.

But she doesn't even know you exist, so you're stuck with mastication.

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30082044)

Actually, Angina P [anginap.com] is incredibly talented (Flash warning on the homepage.) Her music is quite enjoyable.

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080304)

Hmm... either a very nerdy joke, or a the motivation of a serial killer...

Re:Hacking hearts (2, Funny)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080390)

You'd be pretty heartless to hack a peacemaker.

Re:Hacking hearts (2, Insightful)

MrSenile (759314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080512)

If you attacked a pacemaker, they'd wind up pretty heartless as well.

Re:Hacking hearts (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081034)

Yeah if you could hack a Peacemaker it would be something, I always wanted total control of a continental siege unit.
But if you meant a Colt Peacemaker, can't be done, and I have total control of mine!

Oblig (4, Funny)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081312)

Don't go hacking my heart
I could if I tried
Honey please forget my wireless
Baby I'm not that kind
Don't go hacking my heart
You take the beat out of me
Honey when you knocked on my port
My heart gave you my key
Nobody knows it
When I was down
I was your pawn
Nobody knows it
Right from the start
You stopped my heart
You stopped my heart
So don't go hacking my heart
I won't go hacking your heart
Don't go hacking my heart


On a slighly different note. I wonder if Captain Crunch could freak an ear implant?

No Locked Hardware! (4, Funny)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080118)

Think anyone will complain that they won't be able to have full access to the hardware they purchased?

Re:No Locked Hardware! (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080298)

If your life, health and well being depends on being able to tune the device, having DRMed firmware would suck pretty badly. If some doctor tunes the pacemaker to enable short burst higher rates so that, for example, I can climb a flight of stairs comfortably, I should have a right to install the update.

Re:No Locked Hardware! (3, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080540)

These are implantable medical devices we're talking about. Forget DRM, to achieve the kind of world you're dreaming of would require a massive overhaul of the medical regulatory system. Personally, I question the wisdom of a world where patients can replace firmware on their medical devices with stuff they find on the internet. The medical profession frowns upon self medication for a reason.

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080768)

The medical profession frowns upon self medication for a reason.

The rest of us call it "Darwin in action"

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080862)

Really? I always called it "Capitalism in action."

Re:No Locked Hardware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30081462)

No, this is called "Natural selection"

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080892)

So, to repair the engine in a car you wound normally go to a repair shop. However you may not want to go to the dealer and you want the repair shop to have access to and ability to reset diagnostic codes to identify and fix the problem. In the same way, I don't expect patients to normally have pacemaker programmers at home. However you should be able to see a licensed doctor not directly associated with the equipment manufacturer and have him/her update the firmware.

As for nutcases who buy a programmer on e-bay and download firmware from Internet, it is NOT illegal to perform medical procedures on oneself, just on other people. There are people who pull out their own teeth or try to seal wounds with staplers. It's just plain dump for most people.

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080874)

If some doctor tunes the pacemaker to enable short burst higher rates so that, for example, I can climb a flight of stairs comfortably, I should have a right to install the update.

First of all, modern pacemakers already offer the feature you suggest. But more importantly, the development and implementation of pacemaker firmware is highly regulated and the released product is thoroughly tested. Would you really risk your life with custom software that isn't properly vetted? When is the last time you ran software that was free from defects? Do you really want a stupid bug to kill you?

Re:No Locked Hardware! (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080914)

Well, it's my life to risk and my informed decision to make. What if the bug which is killing me is in the original firmware?

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080928)

You would be able to adjust your own pacemaker if you sat at the exact distance away from the wireless transmitter.

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081394)

No, you should have the right to go to a medical practitioner and have approved safe updates to the device applied in a safe manner.

User firmware upgrades on life critical devices are a bad idea. What happens if your computer crashes while trying to update the firmware, or the connection times out? What happens if you got a bad image, or the wrong firmware version for the specific chip revision of your device?

Is the pacemaker fully working during such an upgrade?

Sorry... the risk that you brick your pacemaker is too great; I don't think anyone has a proper right to take such risks.

Just like people will stop you if you plan to jump from the roof of a 3-story building to try and hit a trampoline on the ground floor.

Device manufacturers have every right to implement anti-tampering safety measures on a device like this one.

If the firmware's going to be upgraded manufacturer approval is a must. Otherwise... who's going to be liable when the device fails? You won't be.

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30082060)

Sorry... the risk that you brick your pacemaker is too great; I don't think anyone has a proper right to take such risks.

I do not care what rights you think I have to modify my body.

I did not want to get all political but seriously! This is the kind of thought that is ruining the entire planet. Everyone thinks that everyone needs to be protected from themselves. That their right to breed should be protected from their stupidity. WRONG. Pansy ass liberal thinkers.

Think of the children!

Pussies.

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080442)

No only should it be open, but there should be an app store for the pace maker. Think of all the exciting heart rhythms you could purchase.

Maybe they could integrate it to my media pc and home entertainment center!

Re:No Locked Hardware! (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081496)

Sure to expand the meaning of heart pounding rythms in the near future.

Would these mods be against the rules of the PGA? Seniors Tour participants might find themselves accused of performance enhancing software for their pacemakers.

In all seriousness, it is an issue we can, hopefully, look forward to in the future (not the near future, but when I'm ancient). People will want to replace their arms and legs if injured. Other people will think it's unreasonable that they have the ability to hotwire their artificial limbs to have adrenal burst levels of strength at will. Law enforcement and the like will also have their say. All the while, people argue about having control over their bodies, even if they buy them from Pfizer.

Hearts Being Hacked (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080122)

I had no idea that things have gotten so bad that hearts are being hacked.

Well the article talks about how the threats have been demonstrated in the lab by a fella named Kevin Fu, but it doesn't mention it being a major problem right now:

The potential risks of enabling radio communication in implantable medical devices were first highlighted by Kevin Fu, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Tadayoshi Kohno, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Washington. They showed how to glean personal information from such a device, how to drain its batteries remotely, and how to make it malfunction in dangerous ways. The two researchers stress that the threat is minimal now, but argue that it is vital to find ways to protect wireless medical devices before malicious users discover and exploit vulnerabilities.

So this defense seems primarily like foresight rather than a hindsight, "Shit fixitfixitfixtfixit!" moment...So in response to your pondering, I don't think too many hearts are being hacked right now, nor that things have gotten that bad. Rather, it just seems like two security researchers are doing their job to keep the defensive actions one step ahead of offensive actions...

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (4, Insightful)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080216)

Spinal implants and other non-heart related implants do allow wireless communications. That's how I turn on and off my spinal implant. Granted it only seems to support a distance of within a foot of the implanted battery pack to the controller, but still. I honestly don't know if it's the controller or the receiver that requires that distance though.

Guess which website I'll be visiting tonight?

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30082434)

You get a foot of range? I've got a Medtronic Restore Ultra and I need to have my programmer within a cm of the implant to make anything happen, and I'm a skinny, skinny guy. That said, if I use the stimulator on/off feature on my charging system, I can get a solid six inches. I'm thinking tranciever antenna size is a pretty big factor.

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080260)

It's not very often that hackers (by definition, intelligent people) do something purely and solely for the reason of being an asshole.

Retaliating against some perceived national slight? Doesn't make sense here.

To take control and use that for various purposes, like money making or DoS? Not really meaningful.

Showing off? Well, I guess you could make the pacemaker morse-code your name for about five seconds until the person dies, but that doesn't get you much credit.

Because someone with power tries to make it impossible? Well, the new research just pointed out how it's not too difficult to do.

So when the possible pain for these "gains" is death by letal injection, it's not surprising it hasn't been done.

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080532)

To take control and use that for various purposes, like money making or DoS? Not really meaningful.

You're still thinking in a "people playing with computer networks" category.

Criminals could use it for extortion.

Criminal gangs and governments could use it for murder / assassination of high-value targets.

Terrorists ditto and they could also use killing or disrupting the health of random people or groups of them as a terror tactic.

Remember the gadget that sent out the infrared "turn off" code for a bunch of different makes of TVs and monitors? And how much fun some people had wandering around trade shows with it? Now imagine a radio key-fob that sends "cause fibrillation" to pacemakers, in the pocket of your friendly neighborhood terrorist as he walks or drives around the city (or just sends the signal occasionally via a BIG transmitter.)

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081976)

Well, if they start with Dick Cheney, I think a lot of people will give them the benefit of the doubt on that one

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080714)

It's not very often that hackers (by definition, intelligent people) do something purely and solely for the reason of being an asshole.

I guess the fear is not about hackers trying to be assholes, but actually planned murder using the pacemaker as "weapon". Indeed, if the attacker can change the pacemaker to operate normally again afterwards, it might actually be the perfect murder.

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081468)

I think the major concern would be someone broadcasts a signal of immense power designed to send a command to many pacemakers all over a region.

If the signal is brief enough, and the source of the signal flees quickly enough, they can't be traced.

The possibility opens that a really bad person could demand a ransom to not break all pacemakers in the country.

Then when they don't get their ransom paid, and they get laughed off, they hit a state, county, or region as a "demonstration"

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081640)

"It's not very often that hackers (by definition, intelligent people) do something purely and solely for the reason of being an asshole."

If you mean "hackers" as the word is commonly used today, no, they are not particularly intelligent.

In fact, you could probably make a case that the original hackers weren't necessarily brilliant either - just highly focused on a narrow knowledge domain.

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080348)

Kevin Fu just got published with a splash. That young assistant professor is well on his way for tenure.

He made an excellent topic choice.

On the other hand, it does look he'd be happy as a baker [umass.edu] .

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080518)

Here's a slashdot discussion from March 2008 with a little more information: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/12/1232206 [slashdot.org]

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (2, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080616)

the threats have been demonstrated in the lab by a fella named Kevin Fu

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...........

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081984)

He works in the lab ARRRRRR RRRGGG........

(I'm trying to not use so many caps, because it's like yelling, but I'm failing.)

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080668)

Rather, it just seems like two security researchers are doing their job to keep the defensive actions one step ahead of offensive actions...

Weird..

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

OopsClunkThud (1305241) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080974)

Given these devices last for 5-15 years it's good of them to do a little forward thinking.

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081172)

It looks like a solution looking for a problem. It wouldn't be the first time this happened. As for me, I'm not worried, I'll keep on using my birthday as my four-digit pin number for my pacemaker, thank you very much!

Re:Hearts Being Hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30081590)

I can tell you for a fact that some heart devices allow radio communication. And worse use unencrypted protocols.

Heard a 'calibration' process (2, Interesting)

mjensen (118105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080124)

Coworker had a pacemaker put in. Said she held on to two connectors and they could change the rate by sending signals through one arm, through the pacemaker to the receiver in the other.

I joked with the tone generator (for phone equipment) with other employees, but not with her.

Best way to someone heart... (1)

cwike (1481913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080128)

Wireless?

From someone with an implant.. (3, Interesting)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080164)

I have a spinal implant, which is basically an implanted tens-unit, that I use to block the pain from the degenerative disease I have. Although the device has a top level setting, it still hurts if I crank it up that far. If someone was able to remotely turn on my device and turn the intensity up and shorten the waveform they could bring me to my knees. If I couldn't turn it off I'd be in some serious trouble, since I couldn't flee.

As much as it's not life-threatening in my case, it's still pretty damn scary. I can't imagine having a pacemaker that could be disrupted remotely. Although talk about a great tool for the CIA for remote-kills.

Re:From someone with an implant.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080710)

> If someone was able to remotely turn on my device and turn the intensity up and shorten the waveform they could bring me to my knees. If I couldn't turn it off I'd be in some serious trouble, since I couldn't flee.

And if someone were to kick you in the nuts they'd bring you to your knees. You'd be in some serious trouble, since you wouldn't be able to flee.

And if someone were to shoot you in your leg they'd bring you to your knees. You'd be in some serious trouble, since you wouldn't be able to flee.

And if two tall strong men were to beat you up you also wouldn't be able to flee.

If you go out on the street you are risking your life. Any stranger can get behind you and open fire, and you will die and there is nothing you can do about it. The technique you mention to disable you is rather complex and requires knowledge of the victicm and knowledge of the victims implant. There are many, many other ways to disable people that are much easier and work on people without implants too.

There is no reason to worry about people using your implant to disable your legs.

To complete the karma-whoring I will link to XKCD http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com]

AC at your service.

Re:From someone with an implant.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080842)

Hope you don't mind my suggestion...

Hypnotherapy with a really good hypnotist will enable you to turn off pain instantly, effortlessly and without the need to be 'asleep'. Once you have learned how to switch pain off and on at will you will no further need the assistance of a hypnotist.

Re:From someone with an implant.. (2, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081498)

I'm not a doctor, but I've been watching Glenn Beck, and here's what I think he'd have to say:

Why bother fixing it? They're just going to implant tiny remote-controlled exploding devices in the chest cavities of all citizens once the Socialist "healthcare" program takes effect. Come on, people, WAKE UP!!! I mean.... *guffaw*...... *rolls eyes*..... Whore!! I'm not saying *you* are a whore, but certainly we can all agree that whores want free healthcare, therefore people who want free healthcare are whores! *Expression of poignant thought*

Don't forget, today is 11/13, the two month anniversary of 913!!!! Grassroots Tea Party forever!!

Re:From someone with an implant.. (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081672)

Perhaps Glenn's brain is being controlled by a wireless device. It would explain a lot.

Re:From someone with an implant.. (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30082158)

Agreed.

I have an insulin pump [animascorp.com] with has a wireless connection to a handheld BG monitor that has some extra features. The selling point is that you can test your BG levels, select some foods from the database in the handheld device, and give yourself a perfectly adjusted insulin dose without having to pull out a pump and mess with it. (They make the handheld look somewhat like a cell phone with the idea that you can conceal the fact that you are using an insulin pump.) Having found these features to be not-all-that-helpful (and having never been in a situation where I have been forced to conceal the fact that I have Type 1 Diabetes--though I can imagine some), I deactivated the wireless features in order to extend battery life.

Thankfully, the pump and handheld go through a secure-seeming peering and handshake process before the handheld can give any instructions to or read any data from the pump. You see, a hacked insulin pump is as deadly as a hacked pacemaker: If you told the thing to give me even an extra 1 ml dose without me knowing it, I'd probably fall begin seizing and fall into in a coma within 20-30 minutes and with very little warning.

As these devices become more and more feature-bloated, I expect a greater reliance on wireless communications, and a corresponding increase in security holes.

I can see it now... (4, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080190)

Someday, some geek will try to overclock his artificial heart...

Re:I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080438)

Nah, I'd just add storage so that I can keep all of my passwords close to my heart.

Most mammals have an inverse relationship between rate and lifetime. (And barring the use of medicine, probably humans too.) Almost as if there were a limited number of beats allocated...

Re:I can see it now... (2, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080766)

Most mammals have an inverse relationship between rate and lifetime. (And barring the use of medicine, probably humans too.) Almost as if there were a limited number of beats allocated...

And then you die from a null pointer exception?

Re:I can see it now... (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081660)

Is it too much to ask that such a critical device have two firmwares, the 'user installed firmware', a 'backup firmware', and a monitor ROM?

If the monitor ROM detects the device going out of certain parameters, or detects an exception in the user firmware, it switches to an emergency firmware ROM with assured "safe settings", and starts emitting a radio signal to be picked up by authorities, and possibly alarm tone to warn the user..

Oh I can see it too... (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080508)

And some bad metal band will actually write a song called "overclock my heart". I can see the tributes to Motley Crue now...

Re:I can see it now... (4, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080684)

Someday, some geek will try to overclock his artificial heart...

      Heck people overclock their normal hearts today anyway. It's called cocaine...

      I've actually seen someone with a cocaine induced [bmj.com] long QT syndrome [wikipedia.org] . A hairy day in the ER that was, considering he was psychotic at the time... it took quite a few of us to hold him still enough to get the IV going.

Re:I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080726)

and die.

Re:I can see it now... (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080762)

Someday, some geek will try to overclock his artificial heart...

He'll be following in the footsteps of the ones that already have, like coke and meth junkies.

Re:I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30082528)

Someday, some geek will try to overclock his artificial heart...

lol Abstrackt ! was thinking the exact same !!!! cheers !

Does someone have him for a class. (2, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080198)

The potential risks of enabling radio communication in implantable medical devices were first highlighted by Kevin Fu, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst,...

It must have been rough in college for him.

CS Professor: Now when you call function Foo.

Fu: What professor?

Um, nothing. Back to Foo.

Sir?

Nothing. Anyway the function, let's call it, "Bar" instead. Now when you call "Bar"

John Barr, another student: "What sir?

Professor: Is there anyone named ABC?! Good! Now when you call function ABC ...

Too soon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080208)

Someone hacked Michael Jackson's pacemaker.

Apparently after that, his heart just couldn't beat it.

Re:Too soon? (1)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080382)

Too late

Give me a BEAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080254)

Thummmmmmp thump-thump
th-thumpity thump-thump
thumpity thump-thump
thumpity thump-thummmmmmmp
thumpity-thump!

Hacking Problem Solved !!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080264)

Use a LARGE magnet !!!

Yours In Vladivostok,
Kilgore T.

Ghost in the Shell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080282)

Reminds me of the anime Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex where the 'Laughing Man' (alleged terrorist) hacks people's cybernetic eyes to escape sticky situations.

Wireless Attacks? (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080286)

Like bullets? Or would only a throwing ax count as hacking?

Re:Wireless Attacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080746)

Only 2 points?

Let's research how to defeat this anyway! (0)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080342)

have now developed a scheme for protecting implantable medical devices against wireless attacks.

The same kind of people [slashdot.org] , who'd seek to learn, how to DoS a police wire-tap — and publish their "research" for all, could try to see, how to defeat this scheme too. And with the same justifications and excuses:

  • We need to know, how reliable the method is.
  • We are just providing information, even if using it is illegal (or unethical).

Somehow, I don't think, they'll be as well accepted as those other guys are... Which is really silly, because both are, essentially, sociopaths... Even if we all instinctively sympathize with the subject of a government wiretap, and the government could on occasion, be in the wrong, it is far more likely, that they are onto something real. (And if they aren't, then nothing particularly bad will happen to their suspect.)

An implant-wearer could, just as easily, be a real scumbag and somebody wanting to pain (or outright kill) him, could be doing the right thing...

Re:Let's research how to defeat this anyway! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080828)

> An implant-wearer could, just as easily, be a real scumbag and somebody wanting to pain (or outright kill) him, could be doing the right thing...

I don't know where you live, but where I come from inflicting pain and/or death upon others is frowned upon.

Re:Let's research how to defeat this anyway! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080870)

An implant-wearer could, just as easily, be a real scumbag and somebody wanting to pain (or outright kill) him, could be doing the right thing...

Even if the wearer is the worst scumbag on earth, killing him certainly isn't the right thing.

Re:Let's research how to defeat this anyway! (1)

ivan_w (1115485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081074)

I am afraid I have to disagree with you.

The article is about the fact that those advanced life supporting technological implements are possibly inherently unsafe if they both allow remote manipulation *and* are not properly authenticated. There is no discussion about any motive at this point.

The other subject (wiretaps) is highly more controversial because current governmental wire-taping policies in the U.S. are not necessarily backed by the judicial system but are basically carried out by executive orders - and some believe this is contrary to the wording of the 4th amendment of the U.S. constitution (protecting against unwarranted searches) and thus legitimizes some form of civil disobedience - hence the sympathy for those developing the means to do just that.

This leads to fears by some that our current society is leaning towards an Orwellian 'Big Brother' like world - where wire-tapping is not performed to incriminate specifically targeted individuals on the ground of a judicial inquiry, but rather as a random sampling method.

Then again...

--Ivan

No reports? (1)

Misch (158807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080430)

I had no idea that things have gotten so bad that hearts are being hacked.

I haven't heard any reports of people having them hacked. We had an internet-connected pacemaker [slashdot.org] , and reports that they could be hacked [slashdot.org] .

I had always assumed that there was a limited range that the interface device could be used with my pacemaker. Perhaps this will be incorporated next time I go in for a battery change.

An EMP would still be more effective as an attack though.

Winning the hearts and minds (3, Funny)

slackoon (997078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080526)

One half of winning the hearts and minds of the people could be done using only a wireless PDA

The romantic possibilities (0, Redundant)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080570)

*Now* I know how to get her heart racing whenever she sees me.

Or is that too hard hearted of me?

communication is switch physically..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080602)

Most pacemakers use a reed switch that is only activated by a very close proximity specific magnet.
This allows the pacemaker to send information.
I am not sure how you would get this activated to be able to send/receive anything......

One of the nicest complements I ever got ... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080624)

... was when a colleague (in a discussion on software quality) said I was the only person he'd trust to program his pacemaker.

Looks like the "web of trust" is getting spun a bit wide these days.

Cardiologist confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30080782)

by the man's heart beating in time to Beyonce's Single Ladies.

All you need is (1)

user4574 (1645049) | more than 4 years ago | (#30080890)

But all you really need to launch a full-out wireless attack on a pacemaker is a microwave oven. D'you think they're working on a patch for that?

Re:All you need is (1)

AeroMed45N (919761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081078)

Ack - this issue was "patched" in the 80's. Please keep up with technology improvements. See the section entitled "Common Misconceptions About Pacemakers" at http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/105/18/2136 [ahajournals.org] Circulation is one of the main Cardiology Journals Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen has authored one of the basic textbooks on cardiac pacing. He is one of the authorities in this business.

Hack Dick's! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30081030)

I know one pacemaker I would like to see hacked...

DICK CHENEY's!!!!!!

Be careful (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081708)

Dick still has some interdiction contacts in the CIA.

63 comments and still.. (5, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081266)

This gives a whole new meaning to heart attack.

Someone had to say it.

Just ask my dad (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30081286)

My dad got a defibrillator fitted a year back. It has bluetooth and 5mb of memory. I didn't want to connect to it since killing a parent at Christmas would probably sour the mood.

3 months ago he got it updated and was ill for 4 weeks until a new patch came(although I suspect he milked it a bit for attention). Apparently an overflow in the software was causing small discharges! We don't need to protect against hackers, protecting against the programmers would be a good start. At least I can go around and say that my doctor flashed my dad. :D ..AC because I don't want my family medical history on the net.

read-only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30082052)

Why the hell would you need anything other than read only access to a few simple statistics for the thing?? It's not like you need to adjust the blood flow on the fly.

Surely the fucking thing either works, and they are alive, or it doesn't and they aren't. There isn't much in-between when you're talking about a 3 minute gap between blood flow stopping and brain damage.

The reality of the situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30082192)

I used to help create medical implants. Yes, they're susceptible to hacking, but in reality you don't have much to worry about.

First, most hackers do not have access to medical implants. Cost wise, a new one is about the same cost as car. Sure you might somehow be able to get one used, but most devices run on batteries you'd have to cut open their titanium cases to repower them since the communication sessions are very power intensive. To properly reverse engineer the protocol, you also need the programmer which usually only doctors have and are even more expensive and rarer than the devices. So the barrier of entry into hacking a medical implant is very high.

Second, for most devices you have to be literally a few inches away from the device to activate a communication session. The activation circuitry is usually passively powered. It is very unlikely somebody wouldn't notice somebody holding a programmer by their chest. If they're really sneaky they might be able to hijack a communication session in process, but at that point they victim is already in or very near the doctor's office.

Third, medical implants do not have a standard communication protocol. Every manufacturer has a different protocol and AFAIK they are all proprietary, so you need to reverse engineer them all unless you know what kind of device you plan on communicating with ahead of time.

So yes, it is security through obscurity, but the devices are tiny micro controllers and the programmers are doing their damnest to insure they have as few bugs as possible and use as little power as possible. The electrical engineers will laugh at adding additional circuitry onto a board for this security threat since inside of the human body is some of the most expensive real estate on the planet. The researches are creating solutions to a problem that is practically non existent.

How to Hack a Heart (1)

Sitnalta (1051230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30082292)

Step 1) Take a large, sharp knife.
Step 2) Insert forcefully into sternum
Step 3) ?
Step 4) Profit.

Why wireless? (1)

AnotherBrian (319405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30082430)

Would it be too much to ask that these things not communicate wirelessly? It seems to me that this just unnecessarily multiplies the threat. (Everyone here should remember the shit storm over RFID passports). They really should use a contact based communication system in such a critical application like this. I suggest the transmitter use a small solenoid to tap (like Morse code) on a sensing plate glued to a rib.

keeping paxemakers safe from hackers (0)

Device666 (901563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30082474)

Don't use windows embedded, it will be a major improvement.
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