Hacking Health: IV Pumps Can Be Remotely Reset To Cause Overdose

Last week we pondered the troubles of hacking a self-driving car.  Unsavory for sure, and a nasty way to go, but something that could possibly be thwarted with a manual override via steering wheel (surely those won't get phased out completely, right?)  However, what happens when the hack doesn't mess with your automotive ride, but rather your physical one?

An unlikely accomplice to chaos...
(Image courtesy turbosquid.com.)

According to wired.com, it is possible for hackers to infiltrate medical machines and wreak havoc where there should only be healing.  Several popular types of drug-infusion pumps have the problem of being hackable so that the operator could provide a possibly-lethal dose of drugs to the recipient.

The pumps, made by the Hospira company, number in the hundreds of thousands, and can be found in hospitals worldwide.  The "libraries" in the pumps that specify upper and lower limits for drug dosage are unsecured and can be accessed by anyone on a hospital's network.  Thus, the firmware for the drug library could be updated with upped doses, and anything from a bad trip to a massive overdose could follow.

And it's not like these things are getting better on their own.
(Image courtesy cdc.gov.)

The manipulation could be so thorough that the machine's screen might even display that the "proper" drug dosage was administered.  Security researcher Billy Rios explained, "...if you can update the firmware on the main board, you can make the pump do whatever you like.”

So, if you happen to get hospitalized and feel that certain powers-that-be have it out for you, be wary of the type of IV that's tapping your veins.  Not all murderous robots have to look like the "Terminator"...something as innocent as an IV could be used against you.

Don't be too paranoid about it, though.  That's even more paralyzing than the drugs.
(Image courtesy dreamstime.com.)

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