New Tech Horizon: Pacemaker hack can kill via laptop - New Tech Horizon

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Pacemaker hack can kill via laptop

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 05:10 PM

Pacemakers from several manufacturers can be commanded to deliver a deadly, 830-volt shock from someone on a laptop up to 50 feet away, the result of poor software programming by medical device companies.

The new research comes from Barnaby Jack of security vendor IOActive, known for his analysis of other medical equipment such as insulin-delivering devices.

Jack, who spoke at the Breakpoint security conference in Melbourne on Wednesday, said the flaw lies with the programming of the wireless transmitters used to give instructions to pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), which detect irregular heart contractions and deliver an electric shock to avert a heart attack.

A successful attack using the flaw "could definitely result in fatalities," said Jack, who has notified the manufacturers of the problem but did not publicly identify the companies.

In a video demonstration, Jack showed how he could remotely cause a pacemaker to suddenly deliver an 830-volt shock, which could be heard with a crisp audible pop.



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