Cybersecurity vulnerabilities

David Slotwiner, Thomas Deering, Kevin Fu, Andrea Russo, Mary Walsh, and George Van Hare recently published a paper titled Cybersecurity vulnerabilities of cardiac implantable electronic devices: Communication strategies for clinicians:

Abstract: Computers, networking, and software have become essential tools for health care. Our daily lives increasingly depend on digital technology, and we are persistently bombarded by the need to secure the systems and data they generate and store from attack, damage, and unauthorized access. Cybersecurity vulnerabilities of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) are no longer hypothetical. While no incident of a cybersecurity breach of a CIED implanted in a patient has been reported, and no patient is known to have been harmed to date by the exploitation of a vulnerability, the potential for such a scenario does exist. The public awareness of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in medical devices, particularly devices such as CIEDs on which a patient’s life may depend and where the potential for reprogramming or rendering the device nonfunctional exists, is raising questions and fueling fears among patients and the clinical provider community. The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) has identified a gap in clinician-patient communication about the appropriate balance of the risks of such a potential attack against the benefits of lifesaving medical devices. To address these communication gaps, HRS convened a 1-day summit in November 2017, in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The goal of the meeting was to develop patient-centered communication strategies for health care professionals, industry, and governmental agencies. Participants included patient representatives, subject matter experts, HRS and the American College of Cardiology leadership, representatives from the FDA, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FB1) and leadership of 5 CIED manufacturers. This proceedings statement is based on the 4 communication themes that emerged from the discussion: when to notify patients, whom to notify, how to communicate with patients, and key elements to discuss with patients.

Proceedings of the Heart Rhythm Society’s Leadership Summit, Heart Rhythm Journal, July 2018.  DOI 10.1016/j.hrthm.2018.05.001.

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