In 2008, the magazine Popular Science revealed that a team of researchers from Washington and Massachusetts universities had managed to hack into a pacemaker and remotely manipulate some of its functions. In theory, this would make it possible to stop it or speed it up to kill its bearer. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the deactivation of his pacemaker’s Wi-Fi connection, a technology that allows doctors to spot potential problems on the spot to prevent these kinds of situations.
Moreover, in 2012, Barnaby Jack, a New Zealand programmer, showed that he could remotely activate all such devices within a 10-metre radius and cause them to emit a lethal electric shock. Some computer security experts warn of another possible attack mode: have access to medical records indicating the treatment to be followed by a patient admitted to a hospital and change the doses of drugs or medicines prescribed by others that adversely affect his or her health.
Even our own car could kill us in a similar way. In 2010, a group of road safety engineers managed to access a car’s navigation system through their Internet connection. Amongst other things, they were able to make the engine accelerate and deactivate its brakes.
Image: Colin via Wikimedia / CC