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James Bamford

James Bamford is an expert on the highly secretive National Security Agency. His recent book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to The Eavesdropping on America, on which NOVA's "The Spy Factory" was based became a New York Times best-seller and was named by The Washington Post as one of "The Best Books of 2008." It is third in a trilogy by Bamford on the NSA, following The Puzzle Palace (1982) and Body of Secrets (2002), also a New York Times bestseller. Bamford has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley as a distinguished visiting professor and has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, Harpers, and many other publications. In 2006, he won the National Magazine Award for Reporting for his piece "The Man Who Sold The War," published in Rolling Stone. A native of Massachusetts, Bamford served as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and he later used the GI Bill to earn his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

Medical Devices and Technological Security Issues[edit]

Medical devices such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, operating room monitors, defibrillators, surgical instruments including deep-brain stimulators are being made with the ability to transmit vital health information from a patient's body to doctors and other professionals.[1]Some of these devices can be remotely controlled by medical professionals. There has been concern about privacy and security issues around human error and technical glitches with this technology. While only a few studies have been done on the susceptibility of medical devices to hacking, there is a risk.[2]In 2008, computer scientists proved that pacemakers and defibrillators can be hacked wirelessly through the use of of radio hardware, an antenna and a personal computer[3]. These researchers showed that they could shut down a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker and reprogram it to deliver potentially lethal shocks or run out its battery. Jay Radcliff, a security researcher interested in the security of medical devices, raises fears about the safety of these devices. He shared his concerns at the Black Hat security conference.[4] Radcliff fears that the devices are vulnerable and has found that a lethal attack is possible against those with insulin pumps and glucose monitors. Some medical device makers downplay the threat from such attacks and argue that the demonstrated attacks have been performed by skilled security researchers and are unlikely to occur in the real world. At the same time, other makers have asked software security experts to investigate the safety of thier devices.[5]As recently as June 2011, security experts showed that by using readily available hardware and a user manual, a scientist could both tap into the information on the system of a wireless insulin pump in combination with a glucose monitor. With a PIN access code of the device, the scientist could wirelessly control the dosage of the insulin.[6]Anand Raghunathan, a researcher in this study explains that medical devices are getting smaller and lighter so that they can be easily worn. The downside is that additional security features would put an extra strain on the battery and size and drive up prices. Dr. William Maisel offered some thoughts on the motivation to engage in this activity. Motivation to do this hacking might include acquisition of private information for financial gain or competitive advantage; damage to a device manufacturer's reputation; sabotage; intent to inflict financial or personal injury or just satisfaction for the attacker.[7]Researchers suggest a few safeguards. One would be to use rolling codes. Another solution is to use a technology called "body-coupled communication" that uses the human skin as a wave guide for wireless communication.[8]

  1. ^ Jordon Roberston. Associated Press 8/4/2011
  2. ^ New Health Hazard:Hackable Medical Implants.'s Technology
  3. ^ Venture Beat "Excuse Me While I turn off Your Pacemaker." Aug. 8, 2008
  4. ^ Hacking Medical Devices for Fun and Insulin: Breaking the Human SCADA System
  5. ^ Globe and Mail. Thursday Oct. 27, 2011 Jim Finkle. Insulin Pumps Vulnerable to Attacks by Hackers
  6. ^ Daily Tech June 15,2011 Nidhi Subbaraman
  7. ^ Daily Tech June 15,2011 Nidhi SubbaramanDaily Tech
  8. ^ Daily Tech June 15,2011 Nidhi Subbaraman