Kevin Fu, a software engineer and professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wants to ensure that malicious hackers don’t turn medical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators into killing machines. Though Fu acknowledges that it might seem paranoid to protect against such an attack, he has shown that a hacker could pull off such a feat using a homemade defibrillator transmitter built from off-the-shelf parts. Specifically, he has demonstrated that such a device could instruct an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to ignore cardiac events or even deliver a fatal amount of voltage on command. Fu, who is partnering with the Medical Device Safety Institute, hopes that by alerting device makers to this vulnerability such a scenario never will become a reality.
Technology Review has named Fu their “Innovator of the Year” for his efforts in defeating would-be hackers. The full article on him is available here.