he Department of Homeland Security is warning against a critical flaw in Medtronic defibrillators which can be hacked by malicious actors. If a hacker were to exploit this flaw, they could gain control of the machine and rewrite commands — actions which could have fatal consequences. At the time of this reporting, there have been no documented incidents involving patients harmed by hacked devices. Medtronic is currently working on a fix for the bug in their defibrillators, but in the meantime, some 750,000 of their devices are impacted by the flaw.
When you hear the word "defibrillator," you may think of the automated external defibrillator (AED), which a healthcare professional may use during the instance of sudden cardiac arrest. But there are other types of defibrillators, such as implantable or wearable cardioverter-defibrillators. These devices are attached to the patient in some capacity and are used to prevent sudden death in people with life-threatening arrythmias.