Basque researchers have developed a secure protocol that could allow connecting pacemakers to the Internet

Security protocol for Internet-connected pacemakers

Basque researchers have developed a security protocol that could allow pacemakers of the future to be connected to the Internet.

Brainchild of University of the Basque Country researcher Jasone Astorga, the so-called Ladon protocol would allow remote monitoring of data from devices inside patients’ bodies without the risk of such such sensitive information being compromised by unauthorised individuals.

Currently, extracting data from pacemakers is only possible in hospitals through a wireless interface. Being able to access the information at any given moment no matter where the patient is would provide doctors with a better overview of the development of the patient’s condition.

However, privacy concerns have been a major obstacle for sophisticated life-saving medical devices to join the digital revolution and follow in the footsteps of fitness wristbands and other wearable gadgets.

The Ladon security protocol could remove this obstacle by providing means for securely authenticating, authorising and stabling the end-to-end keys between the terminal used by the doctor and the device inside the patient’s body.

Some of the leading pacemaker manufacturers have already started selling remote management devices but the industry is aware of existing shortcomings.

Although having validated the system using only a commercial sensor and not a real pacemaker, the researchers said they found the protocol to have very low energy consumption. That would be suitable for application in a real pacemaker where battery lifetime is a major limitation for the patient who would need to undergo further surgery if the device ran out of power too quickly.

The trials also showed that deploying the security protocol on the tested sensor doesn’t require too much memory and offers very low latency.

The researchers hope the protocol could open new possibilities for safe exchange of medical data over conventional wireless networks.

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