Navigation Links
How to stop a new type of heart attack
Date:8/20/2008

PACEMAKERS are supposed to protect people from heart attacks. But to do that they have to provide digital as well as biological security.

Earlier this year, a team led by William Maisel at Harvard Medical School demonstrated how a commercial radio transmitter could be used to modify wireless communications from a pacemaker (New Scientist, 22 March, p 23). Doctors normally use these signals to monitor and adjust the implanted device, but a malicious hacker could reprogram the pacemaker to give its wearer damaging shocks, or run down its batteries.

Such irresponsible attacks might seem inconceivable, but Tamara Denning, a computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, points out that in 2007 hackers posted flashing images to the Epilepsy Foundation's website, apparently with the aim of triggering attacks in people with photosensitive epilepsy.

Pacemaker users could be similarly targeted, and there are a growing number of other implantable medical devices (IMDs) - such as drug pumps, neural stimulators, swallowable cameras and prosthetics - which could also be undermined by pranksters or even killers. Researchers like Denning believe it's worth being prepared. "We wanted to draw attention not to a prevalent threat, but to a possible future one," she says.

Securing IMDs is problematic, however, because it is difficult to distinguish between malicious and benevolent communications. Some seemingly obvious solutions are unsuitable: for example, encrypting the IMD signals would be risky because doctors might not be able to get hold of the encryption key in an emergency.

Denning and her colleagues have proposed that IMD users wear a "cloaker" device that tells the IMD to ignore any unexpected instructions. When doctors need to talk to the device, they can simply remove the cloaker.

Designing the system poses unique challenges. The cloaker itself has to be resistant to electronic attack, and the system must "fail open" rather than "fail closed", allowing doctors access to the IMD if the cloaker breaks down or is lost. And continual communication with the cloaker will eat into the IMD's battery life.

The researchers have built a PC-based simulation of how a cloaker might work, and suggest that it could be worn like a wristwatch.

Maisel, however, thinks the proposal is unrealistic. In an emergency, the cloaker might be hard for doctors to find - hidden in the patient's clothing, for example. "You're asking hundreds of thousands or millions of people to wear something every day for a theoretical risk."


'/>"/>

Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@newscientist.com
44-207-611-1210
New Scientist
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Abnormal fat metabolism underlies heart problems in diabetic patients
2. High blood pressure, low energy -- a recipe for heart failure
3. Human derived stem cells can repair rat hearts damaged by heart attack
4. Geron Demonstrates hESC-derived cardiomyocytes improve heart function after myocardial infarction
5. Heart of Herschel to be presented to media
6. Minimally invasive heart surgery research wins NIH award
7. A step toward tissue-engineered heart structures for children
8. Research explains link between cholesterol and heart disease
9. Eating competence may lower risk of heart disease
10. Cardiologists and heart surgeons meet for Controversies and Advances conference
11. Depression, aging, and proteins made by a virus may all play role in heart disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/21/2016)... Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... to the new role of principal product architect ... named the director of customer development. Both will ... chief technical officer. The moves reflect NuData,s strategic ... in response to high customer demand and customer ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 2016 The global ... reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to ... Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, ... drive the market growth.      (Logo: ... development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance ... the right employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of ... ... ... Photo - ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... ... control cells — optogenetics — is key to exciting advances in the study ... spatially patterned light projected via free-space optics stimulates small, transparent organisms and excites ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Anaconda BioMed S.L., a ... of the next generation neuro-thrombectomy system for the treatment ... Tudor G. Jovin, MD to join its Scientific Advisory ... a strategic network of scientific and clinical experts to ... of the ANCD BRAIN ® to its clinical ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Iowa (PRWEB) , ... December 08, 2016 , ... This ... asynchronous approvals for biotech crops. The authors focus on the economic effects in countries ... global approval of new biotech crops and the resultant risk of low level presence ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Savannah River Remediation LLC group evaluated ... NT-MAX Lake & Pond Sludge and Muck ... conjunction with Hexa Armor/ Rhombo cover manufactured by ... Discharge Elimination System requirements. The Savannah ... of elevated pH levels, above 8.5, especially during ...
Breaking Biology Technology: