Why the NSA wants to monitor medical devices

Pacemakers might be the next big thing for foreign intelligence, according to a National Security Agency senior official.

Richard Ledgett, the NSA's deputy director, said the agency is researching new methods to collect foreign intelligence, including the possibility of using internet-connected biomedical devices.

"We're looking at it sort of theoretically from a research point of view right now," said Mr. Ledgett at a conference on military technology in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

While he acknowledges easier ways to keep track of terrorists overseas, Mr. Ledgett believes the devices could provide a new source of information for the NSA's massive collection of data — "a niche kind of thing…a tool in the toolbox," he said.

Mr. Ledgett acknowledges the NSA does not have the right to mandate security standards for device manufacturers in regards to new devices.

However, the NSA, which prohibits employees from having cell phones in the building, cannot ignore the potential for outsiders to hack into the agency through these biomedical devices. While no NSA employee has needed an internet-connected biomedical device yet, it will be a concern for the agency when someone does.

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