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Medical Device Security

7 February 2017

The security risk for implantable cardiac devices is very low, and to our knowledge, there has not been a security breach involving these patients with these Medtronic devices.

We work with many internal and external, independent security experts to ensure that current therapies are secure, and to ensure that we are designing new therapies that continue to safeguard patient safety.

Here is why a malicious cybersecurity attack of a patient’s cardiac device is extremely low:

  • SESSION INITIATION VIA PROXIMITY: To initiate programming of a Medtronic device, you must be within inches of a patient. That means a malicious hacker would need to be next to the patient and therefore would be seen by the patient or the patient’s caregivers, making a malicious manipulation of a device unlikely in a real-life setting.
  • DEVICE NEVER CONNECTED TO INTERNET: Medtronic devices are never directly connected to the Internet; instead, they communicate to independent tools (“peripherals”) that provide advanced security controls. For example, a home monitor can remotely send information from the device, but cannot remotely receive information to adjust therapy settings. Sending information allows physicians to monitor their patients remotely, but if the physician needs to re-program a device, the patient must go to the clinic (see “Session Initiation Via Proximity” above).

Importantly, the therapeutic benefits of these devices far outweigh the potential security risks. We continually assess the security of our devices and, if new vulnerabilities are revealed, Medtronic will determine whether additional security measures can be implemented without compromising therapy for patients.

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