Wireless Body Network Keeps Implants and Body-Worn Devices Safe from Hackers

By | March 12, 2019

Editors Public Health

It’s been known for a number of years that certain implantable devices with wireless capabilities can be hacked, given certain conditions. These include cardiac pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators, the proper functioning of which helps to keep many people alive. Now researchers at Purdue University, who have been studying this problem intensely, have come up with a universal way to block all wireless attempts at hacking medical implants.

The idea is to get away from using wireless transmission completely, and instead to rely on the body’s own conductivity to pass signals from an implant or body-worn device to a smartwatch or other data-gathering tool.

If no signals are transmitted or received from the external environment, a hacker would have to make contact with the target in order to even have a chance of interacting with an implant.

Of course this approach negates some of the benefits of wireless communications, but in reality people hold on to their smartphones when they use them, and so these can be used to transmit and receive data to and from implants under the skin. Moreover, the technology needs considerably less power than Bluetooth, for example, which means that the batteries inside of such implants will last longer.

Here’s a Purdue University video about the research:

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Study in Scientific Reports: Enabling Covert Body Area Network using Electro-Quasistatic Human Body Communication…

Via: Purdue University…

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