Cyber security risk sparks implanted device recalls

News briefs

Published: September, 2019

As we reported last year, advances in digital health monitoring — such as implantable sensors to detect irregular heartbeats — are changing the way health is managed. The gadgets are programmed wirelessly and can transmit information to your doctor's office or to other gadgets, such as an external blood sugar monitor that tells an implanted pump how much insulin to release. But it's unclear if the devices are safe from hackers who could illegally access your information, steal your identity, and even make an implanted device malfunction. Now the FDA is warning that certain insulin pumps — the Medtronic MiniMed 508 series and MiniMed Paradigm series pumps — are at risk of being hacked. Medtronic recalled the pumps in June, estimating that at least 4,000 people are at risk. The FDA says Medtronic will provide alternative pumps.

Talk to your doctor to get the process started or if you're concerned that your pump's settings have been changed. In March, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued similar warnings about 750,000 Medtronic implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. Medtronic did not recall them but is working on a software update to improve security.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.