A new hope for Alzheimer's patients may lie in a treatment already being used for diseases like Parkinson's, epilepsy, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) works by implanting a device similar to a pacemaker directly into the brain of patients. Doctors are expanding a study to test the effectiveness of DBS on Alzheimer's patients. The new round of testing hopes to build on the promising results of an earlier study.
Technology is an almost inseparable part of our lives at this point. For those with medical implants, like pacemakers, this is even more true. The unfortunate side effect of this dependence is the disappointing fact that just about anything technological is susceptible to hacking. At the BreakPoint security conference in Australia, IOActive researcher Barnaby Jack demonstrated that he could deliver a series of 830 volt shocks to a nearby pacemaker via his laptop.
Jay Radcliffe, a diabetic security researcher, gave a presentation at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas that exposed the vulnerabilities of insulin pumps with wireless capabilities. Inspired by his experience with his own pump, Radcliffe delved into the system and found that the pumps are susceptible to hacks that can alter the pump's function and possibly kill the wearer. The hack works by intercepting the pump's wireless signal, then broadcasting a stronger one so that the pump responds to the unauthorized remote instead of the real one. The false signals could be delivered from a distance of a few hundred feet to half a mile with the use of more powerful antennas.Radcliffe told the Associated Press:
My initial reaction was that this was really cool from a technical perspective. The second reaction was one of maybe sheer terror, to know that there's no security around the devices which are a very active part of keeping me alive.