Abbott issues software update to prevent pacemaker hacks: 4 things to know

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Abbott Laboratories on Tuesday released a software update to boost cybersecurity protection for its pacemakers, reports StarTribune.

Here are four things to know.

1. The update applies to 465,000 Americans with implanted pacemakers developed by St. Jude Medical, which Abbott acquired last January. St. Jude's Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Accent ST, Assurity and Allure pacemakers and cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemakers require the update.

2. Patients must visit their physician's office to have a clinician install and validate the new software.

3. The financial firm Muddy Waters first highlighted cybersecurity issues with St. Jude's heart devices last August. While no cyber attacks have been reported, Food and Drug Administration and Homeland Security Department officials have confirmed the device vulnerabilities could threaten patient safety, according to the report.

"These planned updates further strengthen the security and device management tools for our connected cardiac rhythm management devices," Abbott spokeswoman Candace Steele Flippin told StarTribune via e-mail. "Abbott is resolving all old St. Jude Medical issues."

4. Abbott also released a new software tool Tuesday to better measure the remaining battery life in some St. Jude's implantable defibrillators. Late last year, St. Jude said thousands of its implantable defibrillators are vulnerable to a rare issue in which the battery short-circuits and dies with no warning.

 

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