Skip to content Skip to navigation

St. Jude Medical Responds to Poor Security Claims on its Cardiac Devices

August 31, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

St. Jude Medical officials have attested that the allegations made regarding the lack of security and safety of the manufacturer’s cardiac devices are “false and misleading.”

The Minnesota-based global medical device manufacturer saw its shares drop last week after a Muddy Waters Capital report noted demonstrations of cyber attacks to two of the company’s cardiac devices.

Specifically, the report from the short selling firm Muddy Waters said they have seen demonstrations of two types of cyber attacks against St. Jude’s implantable cardiac devices: a “crash” attack that causes cardiac devices to malfunction—including by apparently pacing at a potentially dangerous rate; and, a battery drain attack that could be particularly harmful to device dependent users. The report from Muddy Waters admitted that the firm has no experience in cybersecurity, but nonetheless was able replicate in-house key exploits that help to enable these attacks. As such, the firm said that the devices called into question should be “recalled and remediated.”

In a response to these claims, St. Jude’s fired back in an Aug. 26 statement. Regarding the “crashes,” St. Jude’s officials said that “The report has little detail on this simulation and includes many inconsistencies. In fact, the screenshot of the Merlin programmer in the Muddy Water report shows a device that is functioning normally.

And regarding the battery drain allegation, St. Jude said “The report claimed that the battery could be depleted at a 50-foot range. This is not possible since once the device is implanted into a patient, wireless communication has an approximate 7-foot range. This brings into question the entire testing methodology that has been used as the basis for the Muddy Waters Capital and MedSec report.”

St. Jude further said that its software has been evaluated and assessed by several independent organizations and researchers including Deloitte and Optiv. Its statement read, “Our top priority is to reassure our patients, caregivers and physicians that our devices are secure and to ensure ongoing access to the proven clinical benefits of remote monitoring.” It continued, “We recognize the importance of providing physicians with up-to-date and accurate information in a timely and responsible manner so that they can make informed patient care decisions. Our analysis reinforces the need for researchers and manufactures to work together to discuss and resolve potential issues together to avoid unnecessarily alarming patients.”

Get the latest information on Cybersecurity and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Healthcare Data Breaches: A Year in Review

The latest year-in-review Breach Barometer report from Protenus paints a stark picture—2016 average at least one health data breach per day, affecting more than 27 million patient records.

Healthcare Industry Could Save $9.4B with Full Adoption of Electronic Transactions

The healthcare industry continues to make modest progress toward full adoption of electronic business transactions, but significant gaps remain, representing an opportunity for $9.4 billion in savings, according to new data from the 2016 CAQH Index.

ONC Announces Phase 2 Winners of Consumer, Provider App Challenges

ONC today announced the Phase 2 winners for the Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge and the Provider User Experience Challenge.

Health Affairs: ACOs with High Numbers of Minority Patients Struggle in Quality

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) that have a high proportion of minority patients were associated with low scores on about three-fourths of Medicare quality performance measures, according to new research published in Health Affairs.

Trump Taps David Shulkin, an Obama Appointee, for VA Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump announced yesterday that David Shulkin, M.D.—an Obama administration appointee and current VA undersecretary—will lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

NIST Publishes Draft Update to Cybersecurity Framework

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published proposed updates to the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity—also known as the Cybersecurity Framework.