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Hack: Recall for 500,000 unsafe pacemakers

Thursday, August 31st, 2017 | Gadgets

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered a recall of around half a million pacemakers after significant safety deficiencies have been identified. The devices can be manipulated, for example, to purge the battery or to determine the pace of the pacemaker.

The devices of the manufacturer St. Jude Medical were manufactured before August 28th this year. Already in May this year it was reported that the devices can be manipulated remotely, because they can be controlled by radio. Authentication is not yet provided by the manufacturer. The company is facing security problems as early as 2015.
Firmware update can cause data loss
Affected patients are now to go to the hospital, there the heart pacemaker implanted in the chest or the abdomen a firmware update. This means that manipulation will no longer be possible in the future. It remains to be seen whether all problems are really solved. The procedure should take about three minutes, during which time the device runs in backup mode. Because the update can result in loss of configuration files, this should only be performed by qualified people in the correct environment.

Ars Technica reported in May that a successful attack could be carried out with commercially available equipment at prices between $ 15 and $ 3,000. Attacks on the heart pacemaker, however, are not always malicious. On the 32C3 the hacker Marie Moe had demonstrated how she had hacked her own heart pacemaker to learn more about the technology involved.


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