A team of researchers explains that million of lives potentially depends on the resilience to cyber attacks of a new generation of “artificial pancreas.”
Medical devices are open to cyber attacks, many studies have demonstrated that a large number of medical systems could be affected by security flaws that could be exploited by hackers.
A few weeks ago, a group of researchers reported that drug infusion pumps are affected by numerous remotely exploitable vulnerabilities that could open the doors to hackers, now we will discuss about “artificial pancreas” used to manage the administration of insulin to diabetics.
The artificial pancreas could be vulnerable to cyber attacks that can alter the insulin level transmitted from a glucose monitor to the insulin pump.
According to a post published in the journal Diabetes, Technology and Therapeutics, the Dr. Yogish Kudva along with other colleagues analyzed the resilience of artificial pancreas to cyber attacks. Kudva highlighted the need to carefully evaluate the security of the devices and its components.
“We wanted to make sure that this important aspect of the field was adequately addressed as we get ready at scaling up on our studies,” explained the Dr. Kudva.
The mechanism behind the artificial pancreas is quite simple, the patient blood sugar is measured by a glucose meter that transmits the blood sugar value to the insulin pump which manages the insulin dose depending on it.
Dr. Kudva explained that data must be encrypted to avoid tampering that could allow attackers to change the insulin level with serious repercussion on the health of the patient.
“I think the most important issue to get security people more involved,” said Kudva. “I don’t think there is enough security expertise at this time.”
Despite the results of the test on the “artificial pancreas” aren’t yet available, security experts and medical staff agree on the need to implement security measures to protect the devices and introduce back up or warning mechanism to respond in case of attack.
In the specific case, an alarm could be triggered when the artificial pancreas intends to inject anomalous quantities of insulin.
The security implemented for medical devices is crucial, the new generation of medical equipment are always online and manages a huge quantity of sensitive data, for this reason the security must be a pillar of their design.
“I think that’s the next step,” Kudva said of the closed-loop “artificial pancreas” development.
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.