When someone talks about hacking you immediately think they are talking about computers. But all of that could change after reports revealed that hackers can actually target life-saving devices like heart defibrillators.
You will typically find one of these devices implanted into people who have diseases like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), where the heart is thicker than it should be and less flexible, which means it can stop and randomly kill you at any time.
A heart defibrillator would shock the heart back to life automatically by using radio signals, but hackers may now have the power to disrupt these devices. For example, in the case of a heart defibrillator the hacker could hack into the device and rebroadcast the radio signal it uses. If this happened then the device would be useless.
And these fears are not just the work of paranoid nutcases who wear tinfoil hats all day. Professor Kevin Fu of the University of Massachusetts has carried out an investigation on behalf of the US government into these very real dangers.
What he discovered is that much of the code used to run these modern devices is faulty. This means that many people have died simply because some computer geek missed out a vital piece of code as he was having one of those days where he drank too much coffee and had to go pee every 12 minutes.
But we are not at the mercy of hackers, that’s not the case at all. What people can do is opt for the older devices, which work through magnetic coupling. This means that hackers can’t get at them unless they actually confront the device itself, which isn’t in the realms of realistic possibility.
However, this raises a lot of questions because we have to start asking ourselves whether we are trusting too much to computers. We are getting to that dangerous point where we couldn’t function in daily life without the aid of some computer or electronic device.
And that could cause problems in the future because if we are at the mercy of computers then, by implication, we are at the mercy of those who control them. That could be a fat guy in his garage, a well-known hacking group like Anonymous, or even the more likely possibility of the Government being in control.