Dick Cheney, the former vice president of the U.S., had his doctor disable his implanted medical device so it could not be operated via remote control, which would have made him a sitting duck for terrorist. This was one of Cheney’s concerns when he first had a device implanted, which he conveyed during an interview with “60 Minutes” in the segment aired Sunday, Oct. 20.
Can this really happen, can someone manipulate a pacemaker to actually kill a person? The website Arstechnica reports that a hacker could actually hack into the programing of a pacemaker, changing the settings and yes, this could kill a person.
Cheney was so concerned about this possibility that he had his doctor delete any remote access to his defibrillator device. A pacemaker or a defibrillator is equipped with remote control abilities for a doctor to make adjustments using a computer program. This is fine for the average person, but for someone in high political power, this could be a means for a terrorist assassination.
An episode of the TV show “Homeland” portrayed an assassination with a hacker manipulating the pacemaker of the political figure. Cheney tells “60 Minutes” that “I found this credible.” He was talking about the “Homeland” plot saying, “I. know from the experience we had, and the necessity for adjusting my own device, that it was an accurate portrayal of what was possible."
Cheney had a defibrillator implanted in 2007, which is a device that detects irregular heartbeats and corrects them through an electrical charge. For pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps and other implanted devices have a wireless mode because it is important for the doctors to regulate one of these devices during a medical emergency.
Cheney was willing to wave the availability of emergency access because the threat of a possible hacker getting into his implanted device was a real threat in today's world. Certain safeguards to lock access via wireless to one of these devises by are on the table today, but they are still in the proposal stages.