Vulnerabilities within with Medtronic‘s (NYSE:MDT) pacemakers, its Carelink 2090 pacemaker programmer and associated infrastructure could allow an outside agent to plant malware on the pacers that would allow them to control all shocks delivered by the device, according to a new Wired report.
The vulnerabilities were discovered by security firm Whitescope’s Billy Rios and QED Secure Solutions’ Jonathan Butts, according to the report. Both researchers claim to have been in discussions with Medtronic about the issues, which have also caught the attention of the FDA and the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Rios and Butts said that a chain of vulnerabilities in Medtronic’s infrastructure could allow full control of implanted pacers. The team found the vulnerabilities by assessing Medtronic’s software delivery platform which is designed to deliver updates to the company’s existing devices, according to Wired.
The pair built their own proof-of-concept network after examining the Fridley, Minn.-based medtech giant’s proprietary cloud infrastructure to test for issues without illegally accessing the actual network, according to the report.
Medtronic took 10 months to analyze the submission, after which the company reportedly opted to not act on it, Wired reports.
“Medtronic has assessed the vulnerabilities per our internal process. These findings revealed no new potential safety risks based on the existing product security risk assessment. The risks are controlled, and residual risk is acceptable,” the company wrote, according to the report.
The researchers continue to investigate, and plan to publically show how vulnerabilities in the pacemaker programmer’s connection to Medtronic’s software delivery network could allow such an attack to occur at the Black Hat security conference this week, according to the report.
“We were talking about bringing a live pig because we have an app where you could kill it from your iPhone remotely and that would really demonstrate these major implications. We obviously decided against it, but it’s just a mass scale concern. Almost anybody with the implantable device in them is subject to the potential implications of exploitation,” Butts said, according to the report.
“We’ll just demonstrate the exploits in action and let people decide for themselves,” Rios told Wired.
The researchers suggested that merely releasing advisories related to the vulnerabilities may not be enough, and insinuated that such an exploit could have real life-or-death consequences. They added that the addition of digital code signing could alleviate some of the issues and pointed out that competitors are already using such safety measures in their pacers, according to Wired.
Though Medtronic has not announced plans to release protective measures to eliminate the vulnerabilities, the company said it has acted on vulnerabilities brought to light by Rios and Butts in the past, according to Wired.
Earlier this month, the US Dept. of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Computer Emergency Response Team flagged two Medtronic devices for cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information, according to a HealthITSecurity report.