In an episode of the Showtime thriller Homeland, terrorists used wireless connectivity to remotely disable the vice president’s defibrillator and induce a heart attack. The scenario might not be as far-fetched as it seems; former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, for one, considers it a likely enough scenario that he wears a pacemaker modified to deactivate wireless connectivity.
While this kind of high-tech assassination is a terrifying thought, there are far more immediate risks. Health data on medical devices is high on cybercriminals’ “Most Wanted” list.
Hackers Eye Your Personal Health Metrics
No industry has been hit harder by hacking and data breaches than healthcare. For three years in a row, healthcare has reported the highest number of breaches and accounted for 42.5 percent of cyber attacks in 2014, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Until now, cybercriminals mainly were focused on patient records in hospital systems like Community Health Systems, where hackers stole the personal information of 4.5 million patients. As more and more pacemakers, insulin pumps, patient monitors and trackers are equipped with high-tech sensors and internet connections, the potential to hack and intercept personal information is higher than ever. The cost of cyberattacks in healthcare could reach $5.6 billion this year, according to a report from Experian.