Purdue/Princeton team creates firewall for medical devices

As concerns heighten that wireless medical devices such as pacemakers and glucose monitoring systems are vulnerable to hacking, researchers at Purdue and Princeton universities say they've come up with a solution: a good old-fashioned firewall.

Previously, the scientists were among those who have demonstrated that wireless devices and implants appear vulnerable to hacking. So it is logical that they would be the ones to develop a prototype anti-hacking firewall designed to protect devices on the market, and ones under development such as brain implants to control epilepsy, or smart prosthetics that run on electronic chips. Thus far, they've successfully used the device to stop an insulin pump from being hacked, and the inventors have already filed a provisional patent application.

Their firewall even has a name: MedMon. And the Purdue/Princeton inventors envision it as operating as a separate device, perhaps to be worn as a necklace or integrated into a cell phone, so there would be no need to change or replace existing implantable devices. It works, the researchers explain, through "multi-layered anomaly detection," where the software sets off an alarm if it detects a potential hacking effort or simply uses electronic jamming to block the hacking program from reaching the device.

The invention comes as a board that advises the U.S. government on security issues is recommending that the FDA or some other government agency evaluate how secure wireless medical devices are before they gain regulatory approval.

- here's the release
- read the UPI story