September 2, 2011

2 Min Read
Medtronic: Risk of "Unauthorized Manipulation of Our Insulin Pumps Is Extremely Low"

A couple of weeks ago, we ran a post on medical device hacking. The issue has been getting some renewed attention lately, thanks to Jay Radcliffe's attempts to bring attention to the issue. To quickly tell the story again, Radcliffe hacked his insulin pump onstage at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. At first, Radcliffe didn't reveal the manufacturer of the device. Last week, however, he outed Medtronic because he was unhappy with the company's efforts to address the issue.  

To further allay its customers' concerns, the company put a blog post up further addressing the issue. The following is excerpted from that blog post:

This week there have been additional stories about wireless tampering of insulin pumps and Medtronic’s information security efforts. We wrote an initial blog but wanted to follow up with more information as it is important that you feel safe when wearing your device. First, I’d like to reiterate that we take your well-being and personal security very seriously. In fact, we have already been working over the past several years to incorporate powerful encryption and security measures into our next generation products, including insulin pumps,

But that is not all. We regularly attend industry conferences – including sending engineers to this year’s Black Hat conference where the demonstration originated – to incorporate the latest research into our design process. In addition, we collaborate with outside security experts and across business units to design our products with information security in mind and create rigorous, complex safeguards. And, as always, we closely monitor and follow up on reports from patients as part of our commitment to safety.

However, it is important to note that Medtronic believes the risk of deliberate, malicious, or unauthorized manipulation of our insulin pumps is extremely low. To our knowledge, there has never been a single reported incident of a deliberate attack on an insulin pump user in more than 25 years of insulin pump use.

Of course, communicating that this risk is extremely low doesn’t mean we don’t take the issue seriously. We are committed to protecting your safety through new therapy innovation and security measures.

—Brian Buntz

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