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New Research Suggests Pacemakers Pose Security Risk

* A security company discovered over 8,000 vulnerabilities hackers can easily exploit
* While some vulnerabilities were minor, others could be life-threatening
*  Pacemaker security settings were also found to be lacking

While pacemakers have been around for some 60 years now, only recently have doctors thought it a good idea to connect them to the internet. With internet connectivity, health irregularities and other internal data can be monitored and adjusted in real time, offering both doctors and patients a faster, more effective way to supervise the implants. Unfortunately, as other smart devices can attest, with this interconnectedness comes the inevitable security risk.

A security company reviewed seven different popular pacemakers and discovered more than 8,000 vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit. While some of these vulnerabilities consist of simple bugs, others could be life-threatening.

Worse, the researchers also found most doctor-issued monitoring systems didn’t even require a login or password. Email addresses, social security numbers, medical history and more were all found to be stored on these systems without any encryption. That means virtually anyone could easily log in and steal incredibly sensitive information.

However, perhaps most alarming is the fact that hackers can actually take advantage of these vulnerabilities to infiltrate a person’s pacemaker and turn it into a monitoring device. By doing that, the hacker could adjust or change its settings at will, which could prove fatal.

What causes the most ire is just how the researchers were able to get their hands on these devices in the first place. While pacemaker manufacturers are supposed to adhere to strict vetting processes regarding who, why and how, someone is able to obtain a pacemaker, the researchers were able to buy the pacemakers included in the study off eBay.

If you or someone you know has a pacemaker, it might be in your best interest to speak to your healthcare provider regarding this issue. As the Department of Homeland Security is currently reviewing the study’s findings, the best immediate course of action is to see if there are ways to increase the security settings.

Also make sure you are using an officially licensed or sanctioned pacemaker, that comes from a medical professional.

You can read the researchers’ findings in more detail here.