Although shareholders of St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ) recently approved a $25 billion merger between the company and Abbot Laboratories (ABT), the medical device manufacturer is still facing considerable backlash over accusations that its cardiac implants can potentially be hacked.
The issue was first brought to light in August 2016 when short seller Carson Block of Muddy Waters LLC issued a short-sell advisory on STJ stock, claiming that the company’s medical devices were vulnerable to potentially life-threatening cyber attacks. Though STJ fired back by filing a defamation suit against Muddy Waters, independent research has since confirmed that the company’s medical devices can indeed be hacked.
Investigating experts from independent cyber-security firm Bishop Fox were reportedly able to gain control of one of the company’s heart devices from a distance of 10 feet. According to Bishop Fox’s 53-page report, hackers can potentially gain access to the devices due to inadequate levels of encryption and authentication from a distance as far as 100 feet, allowing them to remotely shut off the devices or trigger shock waves that can case cardiac arrest in patients wearing pacemakers or defibrillators. Likewise, it is possible that hackers can cause the devices to run at abnormally high rates and deplete their batteries quickly, potentially causing fatal results.
Despite these revelations, the FDA has advised patients to continue using the devices, saying that their benefits “far outweigh any potential cyber security risks.” As it stands, no deaths related to the devices have been reported. For more information on this story, click here.
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At Kaiser Gornick LLP, our San Francisco product liability attorneys are closely following this story and will continue to provide updates as they become available. For more information about the risks of St. Jude heart devices, or to find out how our firm can help you pursue compensation for injuries from a defective pacemaker or other medical device, contact our firm online today.