Researchers Develop Personal Firewall Solution for Pacemakers, Insulin Pumps

Purdue University and Princeton University researchers have developed a device, called MedMon, which is designed to protect wireless medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps from hacking.

“The potential problem drew wide attention twice last year — first when diabetic Jerome Radcliffe tweaked the dosage levels on his own pump at the Defcon hacking conference, prompting a call to action from federal lawmakers, then again when professional hacker Barnaby Jack of ATM-hacking fame showed how easy it is to deliver a lethal dose of insulin at the Hacker Halted security conference,” writes CMIO’s David Pearson.

“The prototype MedMon (medical monitor) device acts as a firewall that prevents hackers from interfering with these devices,” writes mobihealthnews’ Brian Dolan. “The team has demonstrated the system protecting a diabetes system that consists of a wireless-enabled glucose meter and insulin pump that communicate with each other via short range wireless.”

“It’s an additional device that you could wear, so you wouldn’t need to change any of the existing implantable devices,” Purdue professor of electrical and computer engineering Anand Raghunathan said in a statement. “This could be worn as a necklace, or it could be integrated into your cell phone, for example.”

“It works, the researchers explain, through ‘multi-layered anomaly detection,’ where the software sets off an alarm if it detects a potential hacking effort or simply uses electronic jamming to block the hacking program from reaching the device,” writes FierceMedicalDevices’ Mark Hollmer.

The device is just a proof of concept at this point, and would need to be miniaturized in order to be practical. Still, the researchers have already filed a provisional patent application on the concept.

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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