Hospira’s Symbiq Infusion System pump has been discontinued due to reports that the device could be hacked “because of security weaknesses.” In the meantime, BBC reports that the Food and Drug Administration is “strongly encouraging” hospitals to not use the drug pump. Furthermore, Hospira and the FDA has urged facilities and healthcare providers alike to switch to alternative methods of administering drugs as soon as possible.
Hospira, as well as an independent researcher, confirmed that the pumps could be accessed remotely through a hospital’s network. The FDA reports that there haven’t been any breaches of security, but the potential medical threat is very concerning. Accessing control of these pumps alters the dosage administered to the individual patient. With delicate drug infusion dosages, this could lead to an over or under infusion, serious complications, and even death.
Billy Rios, an independent researcher, first discovered the security issue of the infusion pump in 2014. BBC reports that Rios found that they “they used outdated software and had identical encryption certificates, private keys and service credentials,” he added. With a large priority placed on preventing data breaches and ensuring network safety, the potentially devastating flaw in Hospira’s product is finally being addressed.
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CNBC reports that the FDA addressed the cyber security concern for the first time on Friday. It is fortunate that there have been no reports of hacks, but discouraging that there may still be facilities using the product. According to Hospira’s company website, in 2007 there were more than 400,000 Hospira pumps in use in hospitals around the world. Pfizer Inc. plans on buying Hospira for ~15.23 billion by the end of the year.