Wired reported that some Hospira drug infusion pumps are vulnerable to a number of attacks. The article also says that Hospira was not receptive to the news when told of the problem and it took DHS a year to issue an alert – only after someone made the facts public. In fact, Hospira initially refused to fix the vulnerabilities and would not test other pumps to see if they had the same problems.
The researcher was told that the pumps are undergoing re-certification by the FDA since the fix requires a core change to the firmware. Hospira is now saying that the pump is not being re-certified. They said that there are already protections in place, but would not say what those protections are. Somehow, I am more trusting of the researcher. The Wired article can be found here.
Some details about the vulnerabilities – you can read a lot more in the Wired article.
The pumps are loaded with libraries for each drug. The library tells the pump what the allowed dosages are for the drug, so that if a nurse prescribes a dosage that could kill the patient, the pump will alert. These libraries however, are not authenticated and the pump does not authenticate who is sending it an update – any device on the hospital network could send an update.
There is also no way for the practitioner to see what limits are in the actual pump, so there is no easy way to see if the pump has been hacked.
The server software can also send firmware updates to the pump and the server software is no more secure than the pump. Some userids and passwords are stored in clear text and cryptographic keys are hard coded. SQL database passwords are also hardcoded and stored in the clear. This, along with other vulnerabilities would allow a hacker to take over the server.
Apparently Hospira thinks that stonewalling is the best defense. It will work until someone dies. It is unfortunate that things work that way. Unfortunately, it would likely cost Hospira a lot of money to fix the tens of thousands of pumps out there, as well as the server software and get it all certified.
In the mean time, it appears that the FDA is on the side of the manufacturer – the best we got from them was a memo – after a year and after the flaws were publicly disclosed by someone else.
Do you see anything wrong here?