Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Hacking Hearts

PostedSeptember 13, 2009

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Randy Atkins: Today’s I-C-D’s are very convenient.  Instead of opening your chest, adjustments can be made by sending wireless signals and monitored on the internet.  But Kevin Fu, a University of Massachusetts professor, says the system could be hacked.

Kevin Fu: We showed that we could not only disable therapies, but we could also induce an electric shock that’s designed to essentially stop the heart.

Randy Atkins: Adding security to medical devices is more challenging than on desktop computers.  Fu says people ask him, why not just add a password?

Kevin Fu: And then I say, “what happens if you forget the password?”  

Randy Atkins: The typical response…

Kevin Fu: Well, I don’t know, can’t they call their IT tech support?

Randy Atkins: Imagine that frustration during a life-threatening emergency.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103-point-5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.