Medtronic works to thwart device hackers

Three years after researchers hacked an implanted heart defibrillator in a study, there's some fresh attention being paid to the potential safety hazards of hacking into the computers that control some medical devices. And at least one major medical technology manufacturer, Medtronic, is taking some action on the issue.

Researcher Jay Radcliffe recently showed at a cyber-security event in Las Vegas that he could hack into and disable his insulin pump, saying that the device lacked security measures. Now the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that representatives from Medtronic ($MDT), a major manufacturer of insulin pumps for diabetics, were in the audience and are now reviewing how Radcliffe hacked into his own pump.

While such hacking stories have raised concerns about the security of some medical devices, manufacturers have largely downplayed the risk threat. Yet, in a related development, two members of Congress last week asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the safety of medical devices that use wireless technology, the newspaper reported.

"It's a shame that, in today's world, we have to guard against malicious intent," John Mastrototaro, VP of R&D in Medtronic's diabetes unit, told the Star Tribune. "We're always looking into what we can do to stay one step ahead of [hackers]."

- read the Star Tribune's story