Insulin Pumps Made By Big Pharma Giant Are Susceptible To Hacking

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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One of the world’s largest companies issued an official statement Tuesday warning consumers that its Insulin pumps are susceptible to hacking.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a conglomerate that manufactures medical devices like the Animas OneTouch Ping Insulin Infusion Pump, notified users of a potential cybersecurity issue. The apparatus helps people with certain types of diabetes manage the disease by delivering insulin, a vital hormone produced by the pancreas, to the body.

“We have been notified of a cybersecurity issue with the OneTouch® Ping®, specifically that a person could potentially gain unauthorized access to the pump through its unencrypted radio frequency communication system,” Animas, a subsidiary under the J&J umbrella, said in the statement. The company felt compelled to caution people using the product even though it believes the risk to be “extremely low.”

If the technology was to be breached then it is possible that a hacker could overdose diabetics with insulin, leading to hypoclycemia, or low blood sugar. This can be severe, even fatal, if not dealt with right away.

But for a nefarious cybercriminal to takeover the device, or alter its effects, would require close proximity to the pump since the system “is not connected to the internet or to any external network.”

Rapid7, a security firm, published a blog post describing how the system could be overtaken through the unencrypted radio frequency communication system, which has the capacity for communication of data via a wireless remote control.

Radcliffe, a diabetic and researcher with Rapid7, discovered this gap in security and reported it to J&J in April, according to Reuters.

“If you are concerned about unauthorized access for any reason, the pump’s radio frequency feature can be turned off,” Animas statement continued. The owner’s manual provides instructions on how to do so.

Medical devices with embedded internet will have $600 billion in economic impact by the year 2025, according to a McKinsey report called, “The Internet Of Things: Mapping The Value Beyond The Hype.”

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