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Artificial pancreas at risk of being hacked

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Artificial pancreas, designed for blood glucose control in diabetes, face cyber security threats that could put users at risk, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have warned.

An artificial pancreas is controlled by software that runs on mobile computing platforms such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, and operates over wireless networks under local or remote medical supervision.

As optimal function is critical to an individual's health, safety and privacy, the risk of security threats targeting an artificial pancreas is of paramount concern and has not been sufficiently considered in the research and development of these emerging medical devices, researchers said.

Yogish C Kudva and coauthors from Mayo Clinic at Rochester and University of Virginia reviewed the recent studies conducted on artificial pancreas systems and identified security vulnerabilities related to both internal and external factors that could put users at risk.

These include software integrity and the risk of malware such viruses, worms, or spyware, access to personal information, or device manipulation.

External concerns may include exposure to electromagnetic fields that could interfere with proper function of the system, researchers said.

They propose the need for a more formal and consistent approach in reporting the technical characteristics and performance of an artificial pancreas during experimental studies.

This would encompass the various components of these complex systems, which typically include a continuous glucose monitor, fingerstick blood glucose device and insulin pump.

The research was published in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics (DTT).

First Published: Fri, May 15 2015. 16:07 IST