Technology

Hackers can kill people with pacemakers, but protection is there

We already know perfectly well how hackers can inflictharm to computers, smartphones and other equipment. At the same time, few people realize that there are other devices under threat of hacking that are directly related to the health and even life of people. These include electric pacemakers, which in theory can be hacked by hackers and bring a person to death. There have been no such cases in history yet, but researchers are already looking for a way to protect people from intimidating danger.

As a rule, implantable medicaldevices communicate with each other through a Bluetooth connection. The range of this network reaches 10 meters, and in theory, the signals transmitted between them can be intercepted by anyone in the immediate vicinity. For example, an attacker can remotely enhance the pacemaker and kill a person.

We are connecting more and more devices tohuman body networks, from smart watches and fitness trackers, to virtual reality helmets on the head. The challenge is not only to maintain the security of this connection, but also to provide higher bandwidth and lower power consumption.

Shreya Sen, Professor of Electrical Engineering

Purdue University engineers createda device that narrows the range of Bluetooth to 0.5 centimeters. It uses the conductive properties of the human body to create a closed network to which no one-sided device can join. The device not only provides protection against hacking, but also consumes 100 times less energy than an “open” network.

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At the moment, the shape of the prototype is very similarthick watches, but in the future, the developers intend to reduce it to the size of the chip that is installed on any medical device. Besides the fact that it will ensure the safety of people, the device may be useful for doctors - they will be able to set up implanted electronics without surgery, through the control panel.

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