Usually when we talk about the dangers of cyber attacks, we are concerned with the dangers of someone stealing, spying, or systematically corrupting our information systems.
But Barnaby Jack who died last week at age 35 brought us awareness of another, more personal and perhaps dangerous hack…that of hacking medical devices.
Barnaby, a director at computer security firm IOActive, became known first in 2010 for being able to hack at cash machine and have it dispense money.
In 2012, he drew attention to a flaw in insulin pumps whereby someone could cause it to administer a fatal dose to its unknowing victim.
This week, Barnaby was going to demonstrate how heart implants could be hacked, killing a man from 30 feet away.
With advances in the miniaturization and battery life of personal medical devices and implants for monitoring and managing patients health, more and more people could be exposed to malicious or murderous cyber attacks on their body.
With the potential for RFID embedded chips for managing our personal identities to bionics for replacing or enhancing human body parts with electronic and mechanical implants, the opportunity for someone seriously messing with our physical person grows each day.
If dangerous vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited in these devices, an enemy could go from the traditional attack on our information systems to potentially sickening, disabling, or even killing millions at the stroke of some keys.
Imagine people keeling over in the streets as if from a surprise attack by a superior alien race or the release of a deadly chemical weapon, only it’s not extraterrestrial or kinetic, but instead a malevolent cyber attack by a hostile nation or cyber terrorist group taking aim at us in a whole new and horrible way.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bhakua)