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:12/16/2016)...   IdentyTechSolutions America LLC , a leading ... and a cutting-edge manufacturer of software and hardware ... seamless, integrated solutions that comprise IDT biometric readers ... provide IdentyTech,s customers with combined physical identification and ... and theft. "We are proud to ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... 15, 2016 ... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... The report forecasts the global military biometrics market to grow ... The report has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with ... growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... -- Market Research Future published a half cooked research report on ... and Service Market is expected to grow over the CAGR of ... ... Mobile Biometric Security and Service Market is increasing ... authentication and security from unwanted cyber threats. The increasing use of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/20/2017)... , January 20, 2017 Stock-Callers.com ... conditions have influenced the most recent performances of select ... (NASDAQ: RGLS ), Abeona Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... TBPH ), and Sage Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... by Grand View Research, global Biotech market size is expected to ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... , Jan. 19, 2017  Market Research Future has a half ... for Liquid Biopsy is growing rapidly and expected to reach USD ... Market Highlights ... Global Liquid Biopsy Market has been assessed as a swiftly growing ... and boom in the coming future. There has been a tremendous ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... 19, 2017 , ... November Research Group, LLC, a global ... device manufacturers and regulators, is proud to announce the worldwide release of PRIMO ... to provide product vigilance departments with the flexibility and ease of use of ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... ... innovators, engineers, and scientists from around the world, was today awarded the "Best ... program is based entirely on merit and decided upon by a dedicated team ...
Breaking Biology Technology: