- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Insulin pump maker identified after hacking talk
Question of the Day
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - When Jay Radcliffe revealed three weeks ago that he’d found serious security holes in a popular type of insulin pump that diabetics wear, he kept two important details secret: the pump maker’s name, and the specific technique he used to hack the device.
The problems he found carry exceptional risks, such as being able to program a special remote control to command strangers’ pumps to dispense the wrong dosage of insulin. But Radcliffe said he was ignored in repeated attempts to alert the company to the defects. On Thursday he identified the company _ Medtronic Inc. _ in an effort to apply public pressure to fix the vulnerabilities.
The disclosure raises the risk of attacks on certain Medtronic insulin pumps. But Radcliffe said he hopes that exposure helps fix the problems. He said he tried to handle the disclosure ethically _ by working with the company first _ and felt “there should have been an ethical response (from the company) to that.”
Medtronic would not directly address its interactions with Radcliffe. Spokeswoman Amanda Sheldon said a Medtronic employee attended Radcliffe’s presentation at the Black Hat computer security conference this month in Las Vegas and said the company was analyzing his public statements.
“We have to evaluate the sources of the information and figure out what we should do with it,” she said.
Radcliffe said his public statements intentionally lacked the specific technical details that Medtronic would need to address the vulnerabilities he’s found. After the Department of Homeland Security, which examined his research, helped make the introduction to Medtronic, his calls and e-mails went unanswered, he said, a claim Medtronic wouldn’t specifically address.
Radcliffe, who lives in Meridian, Idaho, said the experience has caused him to switch to another company that appears to use stronger security.
However, he said Medtronic customers should continue to use their pumps, as the techniques he developed are hard to execute in the real world _ for now. Hacking attacks tend to get easier as more people do them, because hackers can write programs to automate the most cumbersome tasks.
The tension is more than an inside-baseball ethical dilemma about how security professionals should deal with companies they believe have been uncooperative and aren’t fixing known vulnerabilities.
Medtronic, which is based in Minneapolis, is one of the world’s biggest medical device makers. A Medtronic device that works as a pacemaker and defibrillator was also found in a different study in 2008 to be vulnerable to hacking attacks.
Radcliffe’s findings and the earlier study are examples of hacking attack of the future, in which the sophisticated software and communications chips being added to everyday technologies will make them vulnerable to frightening new attacks.
Medical devices are particularly vulnerable because there are clear advantages in allowing them to talk to each other wirelessly and connect to the Internet. That connection allows devices to receive important software updates, and it lets patients upload their medical information to special websites to track the status of their conditions. But medical device makers aren’t used to hackers picking apart their products, and there’s no clear path for disclosing weaknesses.
In light of Radcliffe’s findings, two lawmakers, Reps. Anna Eshoo of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, have asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to evaluate the government’s efforts to identify the risks of implants and other medical devices that use wireless communication.
Radcliffe said he also took issue with a statement that Medtronic issued after his presentation. The company had asserted that turning off the device’s wireless function would protect users from attack. Radcliffe said that statement is inaccurate because the particular wireless ability he exploited can’t be turned off, which means a deeper fix would be needed.
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors