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New Password in a Heartbeat


Artist's representation of tracking heartbeats.

The Heart-to-Heart method uses a patient's heartbeat as a kind of password for a secure system that prevents hackers from altering implanted medical devices remotely.

Credit: WeLiveSecurity.com

Rice University researchers have developed Heart-to-Heart, a secure method to dramatically cut the risk that an implanted medical device (IMD) could be altered remotely without authorization.

The new technology would use the patient's own heartbeat as a kind of password that could only be accessed through touch.

"The signal from your heartbeat is different every second, so the password is different each time," says Rice University researcher Masoud Rostami.

The system would require software in the IMD to talk to the touch device. The internal and external devices would compare minute details of an EKG signature and if the signals match, they become the password that grants the external device access.

"To our knowledge, this is the first fully secure solution that has small overhead and can work with legacy systems," says fellow Rice University researcher Farinaz Koushanfar.

Implementation would require cooperation with device manufacturers, as well as approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Heart-to-Heart will be presented at ACM's Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS 2013) in November.

From Rice University
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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