Medical Devices and Hacking: What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning has revived the debate over how much security should be installed on equipment such as fitness trackers, defibrillators and pacemakers. According to a report on Healthline.com, the FDA warned consumers that the devices could send out shocks or incorrect signals if a hacker drained the battery. Of course, it goes without saying that this type of hacking, particularly with pacemakers, could prove fatal for the person who has one of the implanted devices.

Although hacking has been in the news recently after Americans expressing concerns about Russian interference in the 2016, presidential elections, vulnerabilities involving medical devices are really nothing new. The medical devices that are currently in the market are simply not made with security in mind. When you buy these devices, they probably come with default usernames and passwords, which all means zero protection from hacking or other types of manipulation.

Giving Manufacturers a Push

Medical Devices and Hacking: What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?Consumer advocates say manufacturers are not likely to make security a top priority until they are given a push in the right direction. The FDA has issued a few guidelines when it comes to securing medical devices against cyber threats. However, if makers of these products fail to put these safeguards in place voluntarily, the FDA may have to pass formal rules and enforce them in order to protect consumers. Last July, the FDA issued guidelines stating that it would regulate devices such as Fitbits.

Safety advocates say that it would be in manufacturers’ best interests to voluntarily put these safeguards in place to protect consumers because medical device security is not a problem, but a solution to an existing problem. When more cybersecurity measures are in place, patients will develop the confidence to rely on their lifesaving devices. With regard to devices such as Fitbits, the hacking is almost always for financial gain.

Last year, a cyberattack on Fitbits involved compromising account user names and passwords. When hackers have access to such data, they could also infect computers with malware. In the Fitbit hacking case last year, scammers compromised the accounts to make false warranty claims and got replacements. Safety advocates say security shouldn’t be an afterthought for these devices, but needs to be built into them.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Protecting yourself and your medical devices or wearables from hackers can seem like a daunting challenge. However, it is important to remember that there are steps you can take to ensure that you don’t become a victim of medical device hacking. Here are a few tips.

Protecting Your Legal Rights

Medical device manufacturers have an obligation to ensure that consumers’ information is kept reasonably safe. They also have a responsibility to safeguard the health and safety of patients who are implanted with these devices. If you believe you have been the victim of a cyberattack or a data breach, you may have a case. An experienced California consumer attorney can help determine if a manufacturer tried to adopt the necessary safeguards that would have prevented the breach from occurring, such as encrypting customers’ personal information. You may be eligible to receive compensation for the injuries, damages and losses sustained through a class action lawsuit. Contact an experienced consumer attorney today to examine your legal rights and options.

 

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