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Can “Internet-of-Body” Thwart Cyber Attacks on Implanted Medical Devices?

Medtronic discloses medical device vulnerabilities, while Purdue University scientists propose countermeasure to block attacks

3 min read
Photograph of two Medtronic devices.
Photo: Medtronic

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week warned that numerous medical devices made by Medtronic are vulnerable to cyber attack. The vulnerabilities affect 17 of the company’s implantable cardiac device models and the external equipment used to communicate with them. 

A Medtronic spokesperson told IEEE Spectrum that the company voluntarily disclosed the vulnerabilities to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and that “no cyberattack, privacy breach, or patient harm has been observed or associated with these issues.”

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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