Insulin Pump Hacking Unlikely, Says Medtronic

Published Online: Monday, September 19, 2011

Medtronic’s insulin pumps were the subject of heated debate in August, when a computer security researcher took the company to task for a flaw in its pumps that could allow hackers to control the devices remotely, causing them to release incorrect doses of insulin or shut down completely.

Type 1 diabetes patient Jay Radcliffe performed the hack on his own pump before an audience of experts at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. News outlets picked up on the story, prompting a statement from Medtronic insisting that the risk of malicious insulin pump hacking is “extremely low,” and that the next generation of pumps will feature added protection.

The spectacle caught the attention of 2 members of Congress, who raised concerns about similar vulnerabilities in other medical devices. Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D, CA) and Edward J. Markey (D, MA) urged the Government Accountability Office to investigate medical devices with wireless capabilities to ensure that they are “safe, reliable, and secure.”

Not satisfied with Medtronic’s response, Radcliffe urged patients to be vocal and vigilant about the issue. “If you are a customer, demand that [Medtronic] take this situation seriously and be truthful,” he told Reuters.

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