Implantable and wearable devices are exploding in popularity, particularly for medical and health-monitoring technology. But, as with all technology, there will always be some people that try to hack it for illicit means. That’s especially dangerous for medical devices like insulin pumps, which could potentially be used to kill a person if they’re compromised. That hasn’t happened yet, and to protect against that threat before it does, researchers from Purdue University have created a novel new means of securing the “internet of body.”
Virtually all wearable devices today communicate wirelessly through either Bluetooth, WiFi, or simple RF (Radio Frequency) signals. While we could try to make those more secure, there is always the possibility that they could be intercepted or spoofed. This new technology avoids the problem altogether by allowing devices to communicate across the body without utilizing wireless methods at all. Without wireless communication, a black hat hacker would have to actually physically touch you in order to compromise a device.
The technology works by utilizing your body’s natural conductivity to send signals from one device to another. For example, your smart watch could communicate with your pacemaker by sending an electrical signal through your body. Those signals are completely safe and can reach across the entire body, and require much less power than traditional wireless transmission. The result is communication that is both more secure and more energy efficient. While it’s still early in development, the actual technology involved would be easy to integrate into today’s wearable devices.