There are hundreds of thousands of people who are kept alive by pacemakers, heart defibrilators, brain stimulators and implanted drug pumps that may be vulnerable to hacker attacks.
The vulnerability comes from wireless connectivity that enables doctors to monitor patients' vital signs or revise treatment programmes.
...like any wireless connection, there's now a risk that such devices could be vulnerable to attack. And unlike with PCs when a wireless hack means someone obtaining your personal details, the worse case scenario here is that an attacker - or money grabbing relative - could kill a victim by instructing an implantable device to deliver lethal doses of medication or electricity.
To try and protect people wearing the devices the boffins have come up with a new system, which uses a second transmitter to jam unauthorised signals in an implant's operating frequency. In short this means that only authorised users will be able to communicate with it. This is because the jamming transmitter, rather than the implant, would handle encryption and authentication. And its good news for existing users as the bods claim that the system could work even with existing implants.
Known as a "shield " the jamming transmitter will be small enough to be disguised in a necklace or watch. It would be paired with a device authorized to access the implant, which would send encrypted instructions to the shield, which would decode and relay them.
However, they won't be built into the device as this could cause problems if there is an emergency. And whether medical-device companies will invest in these or if patients will be willing to carry shields around with them depends on how grave they consider the threat of attack to be.