November 23, 2015
Hackers have been using ransomware–a type of malware in which attackers can steal or delete the contents of users’ computers if they don’t pay a ransom–for the past 25 years. Now, it seems, the same tactic may be used on insulin pumps and pacemakers. Ransomware in medical devices is the single biggest cyber security threat for 2016, according to a recent report from research and advisory firm Forrester and reported by Motherboard.
As of yet there are no documented cases of hackers holding a user ransom by his medical device, but experts are realizing that cyber security for medical devices—really anything connected to the Internet, including surgical robots—is lagging woefully behind the digital protection arming other systems and gadgets. Experts quoted in a recent piece in Bloomberg Business estimate that the security around medical devices is about a decade behind the overall standard. Earlier this year, the FDA issued a letter warning hospitals and patients that a pump commonly used to ration out proper dosing of medicine in IVs could be vulnerable to attack.