Thursday, 27 Feb 2020

Life-saving medical implants like pacemakers can be hacked by cybercriminals, experts warn

“Smart” implants, such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and implantable defibrillators, monitor and automatically deliver treatment in response to changes in the body.

They can store, process and transmit data about the patient and implant, and receive software updates.

But these devices could be hacked, according to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

Current regulations do not require manufacturers to show medical implants are cyber secure before they receive approval.

“In light of recent cases of patients coming to significant harm through the use of medical implants, and the emergence of ‘smart’ implants, our briefing note aims to help guide policy-makers in promoting innovation in the sector to address patient need, while ensuring equitable and timely access to safe and effective implants.”

A Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) spokeswoman said: “Patient safety is our highest priority and where necessary we take action to protect public health.

“We have been conscious of the potential for cyber security attacks towards medical devices and continue to actively monitor the situation.

“Although this theoretical risk has existed for more than 15 years, we are not aware of any incidents of cyber security attacks towards UK medical devices.

“In order to gain market approval, manufacturers must reduce the risk to patients and users through designing and constructing their devices to be state-of-the-art for the environment they are to be used in.

“This includes appropriate safety protocols.”

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