Medtronic heart devices vulnerable to hacking: US

Washington: The US Homeland Security Department has issued an alert, describing two types of hacking vulnerabilities in 16 different models of Medtronic implantable defibrillators.

Nearly 750,000 heart devices made by Medtronic contain vulnerabilities, which could let a cyber attacker with sophisticated insider knowledge harm a patient by altering programming on an implanted defibrillator, Star Tribune reported on Friday.

The first vulnerability could allow improper access to data exchanged between a defibrillator and an external device, like an at-home monitor.

“A second vulnerability allows an attacker to read sensitive data, streaming out of the device, which could include the patient’s name and past health record stored on their device,” said the alert.

The Homeland Security Department oversees security in the critical US infrastructure, including medical devices.

“Medtronic is now monitoring its network for signs that someone was trying to exploit the vulnerabilities,” said the report.

The vulnerabilities do not affect Medtronic pacemakers, the report added.

Implantable defibrillators are battery-run computers implanted in patients’ upper chests to monitor heart and send electric pulses or high-voltage shocks to prevent sudden cardiac death and treat abnormal heart beats.

“To date, no cyber attack, privacy breach, or patient harm has been observed or associated with these issues,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying in a CNET report.