Medtronic Recalls Insulin Pumps Due to Cybersecurity Risk

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The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued alerts about cybersecurity flaws in certain Medtronic insulin pumps.

The affected insulin pumps connect with other devices such as blood glucose meters, glucose sensor transmitters, and CareLink USB devices using wireless RF. Vulnerabilities have been identified in certain MiniMed 508 and MiniMed Paradigm insulin pumps which could allow an attacker with adjacent access to an affected product to intercept, modify, or interfere with the RF communications to or from the product.

Consequently, it would be possible to read data sent to and from the device, alter the settings of the insulin pump, and take control of insulin delivery. An attack could therefore result in hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, or death.

The flaw – CVE-2019-10964 – is due to the communications protocol not properly implementing authentication or authorization and has been assigned a CVSS v3 base score of 7.1 out of 10.

The flaw was uncovered by security researchers Nathanael Paul, Jay Radcliffe, and Barnaby Jack, Billy Rios, Jonathan Butts, and Jesse Young, with assistance provided by Medtronic.

The following devices are vulnerable:

  • MiniMed 508 pump – All versions
  • MiniMed Paradigm (511 pump, 512/712 pumps, 712E pump, 515/715 pumps, 522/722 pumps, 522K/722K pumps.
  • MiniMed 523/723 and 523K/723K pumps – Software versions 2.4A or lower
  • MiniMed Paradigm Veo 554/754 pumps – Software versions 2.6A or lower
  • MiniMed Paradigm Veo 554CM and 754CM models only – Software versions 2.7A or lower

FDA deputy director of strategic partnerships and technology innovation Suzanne Schwartz said, “The risk of patient harm if such a vulnerability were left unaddressed is significant.” At this stage, no one is known to have exploited the flaw in a real-world attack.

While there are mitigations that can help to reduce the risk of exploitation of the vulnerability, Medtronic has been unable to develop a patch or software update that can correct the flaw. Consequently, the decision was taken to recall all affected insulin pumps and replace them with devices with more robust cybersecurity protections.

Medtronic says there are around 4,000 patients using the vulnerable insulin pumps in the United States. All have been asked to contact their care providers as soon as possible to arrange for their insulin pump to be replaced.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.

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