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Update on Insulin Pump Security

28 October 2011

Reports have been published recently stating that a Medronic insulin pump could be hacked. A hack was conducted by a so-called ‘ethical hacker’. The aim was to raise awareness for hacking in the medical devices industry and not to harm individuals. Medtronic takes the warning seriously.

The hackers targeted insulin pumps that function properly and meet all quality standards. Product quality and user safety are of utmost importance to Medtronic. The company is deeply concerned that insulin pumps can possibly be hacked. Medtronic believes that the likelihood of an actual hack is low but takes the safety experts’ warning signals very seriously and has begun working toward a solution. Medtronic has received no reports from patients.

Medtronic takes patient safety and device security very seriously and we appreciate the security community bringing forward new information on the possibility of manipulating or “hacking” our insulin pumps.  We have been increasing our focus on the prevention of tampering with our products and look forward to working with the security, healthcare and diabetes communities to develop ways to better protect patients from the risk of tampering, which is necessary to keep pace with a new and rapidly evolving technology landscape.

We have taken a number of steps to address this matter including conducting an indepth risk/benefit analysis to clearly assess the potential risk, evaluating the best encryption and security technologies for incorporation into our products and design process, and finally, committing to establish an industry working group that engages relevant stakeholders from the diabetes, healthcare and security community to develop new approaches and best practices to device security.

Because insulin pumps are widely used by patients with diabetes for tight blood sugar control and lifestyle flexibility, we are also working to assure both patients and doctors that at this time we believe that the risk is low and the benefits of the therapy outweigh the risk of an individual criminal attack.

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