Increased Efforts to Make Insulin Pumpers Safe from Medical Device Hackers

Board Urges Feds to Prevent Medical Device Hacking

Article in
by Kim Zetter

In the wake of increasing concern about the security of wireless medical devices, a privacy and security advisory board is calling on the government to grant the FDA or other federal entity the authority to assess the security of devices before they’re released for sale to the market.

The group also wants the government to establish a clear channel through the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team for reporting security problems with medical devices — including pacemakers, defibrillators, and insulin pumps – so vulnerabilities can be easily tracked and addressed.

Advances in technology have created numerous medical devices that can be monitored and controlled wirelessly to change settings and gauge that they’re operating properly. But vendors have failed to secure the devices to prevent an unauthorized party from communicating and tampering with them — a potentially deadly security problem.

Read more

Prior to implementing another layer in the approval process for medical devices that utilize wireless technology a cost/benefit analysis should be undertaken. That analysis should balance potential hacking threats against the harm attendant to making these devices hack-proof versus the harm to patients who will be harmed by unnecessary delay in bringing these devices to market. Questions that need to be addressed include a realistic threat analysis, what constitutes effective counter-measures to that threat, how many patients could be harmed by delayed availability of these devices versus number of patients harmed if they are hacked.

We all want secure, efficacious devices but "good enough" now might be preferable "perfect" at a much later time.

I guess my question is - how realistic is it that someone would hack my insulin pump? Does this represent a REAL threat or just a lot of media hype?

What worries me is that new regulations will come out and will greatly slow down progress, all in the name of something that was just hyped up and made to be a big deal when no credible threat was actually there.

Speaking as someone with T1 diabetes who uses an insulin pump, I want progress, and I'm willing to take that progress at a slight risk. It's impossible to make any device hack proof and I don't think that's what the industry should be aiming for. I want my next insulin pump to be even better than the one I currently wear. I want to be able to upgrade my pump when a new model comes out and I want pumps a bit more affordable so that more people can have access to them. If we start slapping on new regulations and procedures, that's not going to happen. New regs and procedures will likely mean that my next pump is no different than the one I have now. The one I have now is great, but technology needs to move forward, not stall.

I agree it is unlikely and I have used the hole in the security to use Dexcom sensors with my MM pump. I am sure this is the first "security" problem that they will fix.
I hate to be completely pessimistic, but I'm thinking the only thing that won't change is the safety.
The risk that someone will come by and inject me with 100 units of insulin via an I phone or what ever is not a worry any more than someone would come up to me and stab me. WHERE ARE THE PROTOCOLS TO PREVENT THAT?

It is strange that we worry that someone COULD do something horrible via technology,but we forget that people can do far worse with out any help from my insulin pump.

Actuarially speaking, I think you have a lot more chance of being stabbed than you have of having your pump hacked. I believe there have been exactly zero actual incidents where anyone's pump has been hacked? I think this whole issue is absurd.

Probably a better chance of being struck by lightening than someone hacking an insulin pump. I just don't see there being much interest in hacking a insulin pump.

If someone is hacking insulin pumps then they have reached the lowest. This would be someone with no regard to human life.

Wow, could not agree more. Having lived in and around the nation's capitol all my life, I have seen how there is often very little done to stop the horribly violent crime we see here on a daily basis. Drug dealing beefs settled on the street with semi-automatics, drive-bys, violent robberies where victims are physically attacked, etc...

I have seen repeatedly how the U.S. government does so little to actually stop real and horrible crimes. Heck, as a kid I remember how there used to be shootings and drug dealings just YARDS from the U.S. Capitol!

But now we're going to put resources a maybe-theoretical-someday-but-has-never-happened threat in a way that might actually THWART progress? Ugh.

So true. When I lived in the Bronx I used to keep a spare syringe in my pocket as a defense against mugging. One night somebody tried, I pulled out the syringe and you never saw slime run like that.

That's awesome!! I'm going to start rolling with my "works"!

Priceless! How smart.