MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Insulin pumps and other wireless medical devices may be vulnerable to software attacks, security experts noted at a computer security conference in Las Vegas today.
Security expert Jay Radcliffe, who is himself a diabetic, found that his insulin pump could be altered to respond to remote control operation that modified insulin flow.
"My initial reaction was that this was really cool from a technical perspective," Radcliffe told the Associated Press. "The second reaction was one of maybe sheer terror, to know that there’s no security around the devices which are a very active part of keeping me alive."
Luckily, as MassDevice reported last month, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Massachusetts are staying one step ahead of the game by developing wearable jammers that would defend medical devices from attackers’ signals.
The vulnerability is serious and medical databases and hospital equipment have been targeted before, but the research team emphasizes that no incidents involving medical device hacking have been reported to date. The research is intended to address a potential problem before it becomes a real issue.
Outrage over mandated insurance coverage for birth control
The Dept. of Health & Human Services yesterday passed a recommendation mandating that health insurers provide birth control and several other women’s health services at no cost to patients starting on Aug. 1, 2012.
The measure has sparked praise as well as ire from various groups, Salon reported.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards called it a "tremendous stride forward for women’s health in this country." Conservative reactions have been less favorable, including Family PAC Federal VP Sandy Rios’ comments that the country can’t afford to pay for the services, which she likened to spa treatments.
"We’re $14 trillion in debt and now we’re going to cover birth control, breast pumps, counseling for abuse? Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well?" she told Fox News.
GOP Rep. Steve King (Iowa) also criticized the decision, arguing that birth control should not be considered preventative medicine. He went further to suggest that free birth control could lead to a erosion of the American birth rate.
"If you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine," King said on the House floor. "If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization."
Live robotic prostate surgery
High-achieving high school students were privy to a live demonstration of robotic prostate surgery at the National Youth Leadership Forum of Medicine yesterday.
Can a blood test tell you how long you’ll live?
A controversial blood test may be able to determine "biological age," providing clues to a person’s longevity and how healthy the remaining years will be, the New York Times reported.
The test, already sold by Life Length at a going rate of $712, measures the length of telomeres, structures on the tips of chromosomes that shorten as people age. Telomere length is considered indicative of health and illness, including potential to develop Alzheimer’s disease, cancer or risk of early death.