A team of computer security researchers reports that it is possible to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker. They were able to reprogram it to shut down, or to deliver potentially fatal jolts of electricity.
The researchers were also able to glean personal patient data by eavesdropping on signals emanating from the tiny wireless radio embedded in the implant, which is used to let doctors monitor and adjust it without surgery.
There is no great danger yet, though -- the experiment required more than $30,000 worth of lab equipment, and the device the researchers tested was placed within two inches of the test gear. But the researchers said that the test results suggested that too little attention was being paid to security in the growing number of medical implants being equipped with communications capabilities.