Company warns insulin pump vulnerable to hacking

Posted at 3:05 PM, Oct 04, 2016

You've probably heard about emails, phones even and bank accounts being hacked. But what about an insulin pump? One company sent out a warning to users about the possibility. But what could this potentially mean for people who depend on this technology and others like it?


Kelli Raleigh started using an insulin pump to manage her Type 1 Diabetes six years ago.


"I would never go back to taking shots every day because it's so convenient and it's just one less thing with type one diabetes you have to think about," Raleigh says.


Her continuous glucose monitor tracks her blood sugar then delivers those readings to her phone. Then Raleigh can remotely program her pump to deliver insulin based on those levels.


"You go low and you don't have immediate glucose immediate sugar to fix it you can very quickly go into a coma and very quickly die if there's not something to fix it," Raleigh says.


That's why it's hard for her to imagine what could happen if someone hacked into her insulin pump. But Johnson & Johnson says it's a possibility with their Onetouch Ping® insulin delivery system, even though the probability of it happening is extremely low.


Dr. Lela Mansoori is a board certified endocrinologist and says although it raises concern, patients still have a lot of control when it comes to determining whether or not they've been hacked. 


Dr. Monsoori says she would tell her patients, "Be extra diligent in checking their blood sugars to make sure that it is under good control and that if something seems unusual they need to report it to their doctor."


Dr. Mansoori says she also would tell her patients not to be too concerned. Raleigh says she isn't.


"The benefits of being able to use a pump for diabetes management so far outweigh any kind of risk of being able to be hacked," Raliegh says.


Johnson & Johnson says hacking into the pump would require technical expertise, sophisticated equipment and proximity to the pump. 


The company says it has contacted patients and health care providers about this issue to let them know about pump features they can enable for advanced protection.