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Biohackers, or grinders, are willingly inserting magnets or other devices into their bodies in what they view as a form of self-improvement, but the trend is raising concerns about the potential for such devices to be hacked by malicious actors and the product liability risks that may be associated with that.
“People are trying to turn themselves into cyborgs,” Bill Hardin, a Chicago-based vice president with Charles River Associates Inc. who conducts forensic assessments on data breach and cyber incident response, said at the American Society for Health Care Risk Management’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, last month. “Hollywood’s influencing it. Social media is influencing it. And it’s just a matter of time.”
Biohacking refers to the application of information technology hacks to biological systems, namely the human body, by people referred to as grinders in an effort to improve their own bodies with do-it-yourself cybernetic devices or introducing chemicals into the body to enhance or change the functioning of their bodies.
“(Biohacking) might not be here in five years, but potentially it’s going to be here in 10,” Mr. Hardin said. “With that, how do we adapt from a risk management perspective, because now you’re actually dealing with a human body?” If there is a virus that is infecting a computer, it can be rebooted and restarted, he noted.
“The human body doesn’t work like that,” he said. “Inserting foreign devices into our bodies — the question is now how does that interact with us, what can I do with it and, from a hacker perspective, how far does it transmit out and what type of data does it contain within it?”
“From a risk management perspective … we have to be prepared for that because what if it’s one of our devices that they’re actually going to hack into,” Mr. Hardin said. “What’s the product liability associated with that?”
Advancements in technology have propelled development of medical devices being utilized for life-saving treatments, but the ability of hackers to access such devices in a connected world is raising the bar on the need to identify and prevent cyber attacks that can compromise patient safety, experts say.