Cheney admits fearing hacker of medical devices

Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, has revealed that he had his heart implant modified for fear of terrorist attack. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24608435

Mr Cheney’s doctor disabled the heart defibrillator’s wireless function to prevent would-be assassins from interfering with it and causing a fatal heart attack.

“I found it credible,” Mr Cheney told CBS TV’s 60 Minutes programme.

“I know from the experience we had, and the necessity for adjusting my own device, that it was an accurate portrayal of what was possible,” said Mr Cheney, who was President George W Bush’s right-hand man during the “war on terror”.

An ICD monitors heartbeat and if it detects an irregular rhythm, sends low-energy electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.

In 2008, researchers from the University of Washington, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Harvard Medical School, claimed that they could carry out software radio-based attacks on ICDs that could “compromise patient safety and patient privacy”.

“As with all electronic devices, the possibility of targeted hacking still exists given the right physical situation, expert knowledge of the device and the necessary equipment.

An elite hacker who was due to demonstrate how heart implants could be hacked has died unexpectedly in San Francisco. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23467411  Barnaby Jack died on Thursday, the city’s medical examiner’s office told Reuters, but did not give more details.  He had been due to give a presentation into medical device vulnerabilities at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas taking place next week.

He had said one technique could kill a man from 30 feet (nine metres) away.

Mr Jack became one of the most famous hackers on the planet after a 2010 demonstration in which he hacked a cashpoint, making it give out money. The technique was dubbed “Jackpotting”.

More recently, he emerged as a leading expert in the weaknesses that could be found in medical technology.

Last year, he told the BBC about how he had discovered flaws in widely-used insulin pumps which allowed him to compromise the devices.

The hack made it possible to control them and administer a fatal level of insulin, Mr Jack said.

Mr Jack’s expertise and vivid demonstrations of his knowledge at events like Black Hat earned him the respect of many security professionals.

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