Death by Wifi? Wireless Medication Implant Could Get Hacked

By Rachel Cernansky | February 10, 2009 6:53 pm

pills1.jpgA new device for people who have trouble swallowing pills looks like it might become more of a health hazard than a medical savior. The Remote Intelligent Drug Delivery System (RIDDS), the latest in pill technology, relies on electronic implants to dispense medication automatically or via a wireless medical network. Ultimately, RIDDS will have built-in sensors to monitor the biomarkers of a patient’s symptoms—such as pulse rate or blood oxygen level—and health care workers will use wireless control to monitor the patient and adjust the device or medication accordingly.

Researchers, however, warn that serious security risks are involved. Because current wireless communication technology is inherently vulnerable to hacking, the new device can be tampered with.

This could mean anything from the theft of a patient’s personal data to the altering of a patient’s sensor readings. Worst-case scenario: the RIDDS connection is hijacked to release medication inappropriately, with potentially fatal consequences for the patient.

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Discoblog: Edible EKGs? New Pill Can Measure Your Heart Rate

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • Agitationist

    And then there’s the male sterilization technique which involves putting little RF implants in the gentleman’s vas deferens. Talk about your security risks…

  • Antibogon

    Is this Fox News? There are some simple wireless security practices, that if followed, will ensure that no hacker ever gets in. It is retarded to not follow those practices and then cause panic.

    For instance, you’d want to be sure you’re using the best possible encryption with the longest possible random password that only the client knows. One-time-passwords based security could also be devised. Just talk to a couple of WiFi and computer security experts.

  • Pingback: ¿Asesinarán los hacker del futuro desde la WiFi? | Maikelnai's blog()

  • Ryan

    I work with computer encryption and I agree, not difficult to remedy, at all. And yes, Rupurt Murdoch wrote this article himself.

  • Amos Kenigsberg (Discover Web Editor)

    Even assuming that you could make a perfectly un-hackable wireless technology—a very big if—any security regime is still only as secure as the people running it, and the possibility [one even might say the eventuality] of human error sneaks in right there. E.g., a recent study found that tons of people currently use the passwords “1234” and “password.”

    There’s no reason to think that some people using or administering medicinal implants wouldn’t make the same mistakes—even if it could cost folks their lives.


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