FDA to recall 745,000 pacemakers vulnerable to Cyber Attack

293

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of United States has issued an alert this week for a voluntary recall of approximately 745,000 pacemakers made by St Jude Medical, now owned by US Manufacturer Abbott.

And as per the data available with the FDA, more than 465,000 of the pacemakers are implanted in US patients and another 280,000 are being used worldwide.


Abbott is yet to comment on this issue. But some sources from the administration side of the company reported that more than 75,000 pacemakers are being used in Australia and a few in the UK.

Technically speaking, pacemakers can be hacked by cyber crooks who could then take control of the device and control its pace or run down its batteries.

US Homeland Security has reacted on this issue and said that it needs high skills for a hacker to exploit the vulnerabilities of pacemakers. And the law enforcement adds that hackers might not gain any financial momentum by hacking these devices.

In October 2016, two patients using Abbott Pacemakers died in Europe. The reason for their death is still unknown. But St Jude recalled some of its 400,000 implanted heart devices due to the risk of premature battery depletion which could have been trigger due to a cyber attack.

A recent report published in BBC highlighted the vulnerability of Pacemakers to cyber attacks. The report also requests the patients to ask doctors about a firmware update which takes about three minutes. The process is simple- Pacemakers receive a revised code after being placed to radio waves emitting wand. The process lasts for about 3 minutes which includes the firmware update to take effect on the pacemaker.

Some of the pacemaker models which were recalled include Accent, Anthem, Accent MRO, Accent ST, Assurity, and the Allure.