It was bad enough when I had to worry about my computer or smartphone being hacked. Now it seems I need to start worrying about my body being hacked one day too. Let me start off by saying that I do not currently have an IMD (implantable medical device), but you never know what the future might hold.

All I am saying is that researchers at MIT and University of Massachusetts Amherst have me a bit paranoid when they state: “Wireless communication has become an intrinsic part of modern implantable medical devices (IMDs). Recent work, however, has demonstrated that wireless connectivity can be exploited to compromise the confidentiality of IMDs’ transmitted data or to send unauthorized commands to IMDs—even commands that cause the device to deliver an electric shock to the patient.”

In the paper, the researchers explore the feasibility of protecting an implantable device from such attacks without modifying the device itself. Now let me say that I am doing the technical details of this proposed solution injustice when I describe it, but what they are proposing is a shield that uses a novel radio design that can jam the signals and prevent others from decoding the IMD.

Have we gotten to the point where hackers are no longer enthralled with hacking computing devices but feel the need to hack the human body?! I mean, come on! Aren’t there enough devices to keep them busy? Didn’t I hear something about 50 billion?

On that note, it is good to see more companies upping the ante when it comes to protecting mobile and connected devices. These past few weeks have certainly been newsworthy. First we had AT&T announcing a deal with Juniper Networks, using the company’s Junos Pulse solution, to develop a mobile security platform that it will brand later this year to protect mobile devices like smartphones and tablets from security threats.

To a lesser extent you had Sprint making an announcement with McAfee, providing its customers with simple access to McAfee Mobile Security and McAfee Family Protection Android Edition software, in order to help protect the information stored on their mobile devices.
Of course you have organizations like TIA and companies like Mocana tailoring the discussion more directly towards other devices like smart meters, healthcare devices, and such.

I see this as a bigger trend to watch in 2012 and beyond. Just another consideration along the value chain.

1 comment so far

  1. Given the complexity of some M2M deployments; there is sometimes a trend of overlooking security and just getting things to work. Eventually as we see more and more connected devices, these devices and markets will be targeted. Stuxnet was a very targeted implementation, however it just goes to show how security in the M2M space has been overlooked and can be exploited. Just my opinion.