The Erosion of Trust in Medical Device Security.


Late last month, a cybersecurity research firm alleged that security vulnerabilities in a connected cardiac medical device – a “smart” pacemaker and monitor combo – made by St. Jude Medical might put patients’ lives at risk.


Once standalone, many pacemakers now include wireless remote monitoring that enables physicians to optimize treatment and rapidly detect hardware problems. The pacemaker uses short-wave radio to communicate to a gateway or mobile device, which conveys that data to caregivers over Wi-Fi or cellular connections.
The alleged vulnerabilities exploit security flaws to crash the implantable pacemaker or drain its battery. Either could be fatal to patients whose heart can’t beat correctly without a functional pacemaker. (I learned this fact from my father, who has a pacemaker from a different manufacturer.)
It’s worth noting here that the cybersecurity researchers sold their findings to a hedge fund, which shorted St. Jude’s stock, and the security research firm is being compensated by the fund’s performance. Also, St. Jude and other researchers are disputing the claims.
While much will be debated about the veracity, legality, and ethics of these researcher and hedge fund activities, my most important takeaway is that it reinforces the urgent need for open security assessment programs for connected medical devices, which we increasingly depend upon for our health and privacy.
* Vocab:
cybersecurity research firm /ˈsʌɪbəsɪˌkjʊərɪti/: a company doing research about the Internet security.
- security vulnerability /vʌln(ə)rəˈbɪlɪti/: a weakness in the computer system allows hackers to take an access to.
- pacemaker (n) /ˈpeɪsmeɪkə/: a device used to stimulate a heart to beat.
- put something or somebody at risk (v): cause problems or danger to something or somebody.
- veracity (n)/vəˈrasɪti/:accuracy 

* Structure:

  • It's worth + GERUND: used when we think something is important.

e.g: It's worth paying a visit to Thailand to see my in-laws.
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