Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hackable pacemaker

I can’t tell if this is actually a problem or just technology fearmongering. The first sentence doesn’t make me think it is all that worrisome.

The threat seems largely theoretical. But a team of computer security researchers plans to report Wednesday that it had been able to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker.

They were able to reprogram it to shut down and to deliver jolts of electricity that would potentially be fatal—if the device had been in a person. In this case, the researcher were hacking into a device in a laboratory.

Other than pure malice, I don’t see why a hacker would be interested in doing this. However, apparently teens have been turning off San Francisco’s electric buses and throwing rocks at the disabled vehicles, which sounds pretty malicious. I guess as long as the pacemakers don’t have external on/off switches, people’s hearts will be fine.

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