Threat Matrix: Malware And Hacking Pose Dangers To Medical Devices

Mike Miliard | Healthcare IT News | May 24, 2013

'We’re starting to attach medical devices to electronic health records, and they’re not secure.'

The scene from the Showtime series Homeland is tough to watch: The Vice President of the United States, dying slowly as his heart beats faster. His pacemaker – a delicate implanted device, accessed and altered from some distant computer by a terrorist who'd learned its serial number – is going haywire.

It could happen, said Tim Zoph, CIO of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, speaking at the Healthcare IT News/HIMSS Media Privacy & Security Forum this past December.

"Fact or fiction?" Zoph asked, clutching an innocuous looking black box – a wireless transmitter used to give instructions to pacemakers – as he scanned the audience.

"The fact is," he said, "they’re not secure."