By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
16th April 2010
A Microsoft researcher has suggested tattooing passwords on patients
with pacemakers and other implanted medical devices to ensure the
remotely-controlled gadgets can be accessed during emergencies.
The proposal, by Stuart Schechter of Microsoft Research, is the latest
to grapple with the security of implanted medical devices equipped with
radio transmitters they can be controlled without the need for surgery.
Besides pacemakers, other types of potentially vulnerable devices
include insulin pumps and cardiac defibrillators.
In 2008, researchers demonstrated that heart monitors were susceptible
to wireless hacks that caused pacemakers to shut off or leak personal
information. But equally devastating are scenarios in which physicians
are unable to provide emergency care because they don't have the access
codes needed to control the devices.
In a paper published last week, Schechter proposed that access to such
devices be controlled with encryption similar to what's used on wi-fi
networks. Access keys would then be tattooed on patients using ink
that's invisible under most conditions.
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