This is absolutely terrifying. If you have a heart-related health issue or a loved one who does, you must immediately take action.
As we have been telling you, hackers are increasingly focusing their attacks on internet-connected medical devices. Hackers can remotely reprogram life-saving equipment.
This is not science fiction. It's all too real. In fact, nearly half a million people with embedded, radio-frequency-enabled pacemakers, which keep your heart beating correctly, are being urged by the Food & Drug Administration to have their pacemakers reprogrammed by their doctors.
On August 29, the FDA issued a recall for about 465,000 pacemakers made by Abbott (formerly St. Jude Medical). A firmware update has been issued to reduce the chance that a hacker can remotely access your pacemaker and change its settings.
The FDA warned: "Many medical devices - including St. Jude Medical's implantable cardiac pacemakers - contain configurable embedded computer systems that can be vulnerable to cybersecurity intrusions and exploits.
"As medical devices become increasingly interconnected via the Internet, hospital networks, other medical devices, and smartphones, there is an increased risk of exploitation of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, some of which could affect how a medical device operates."
Schedule a doctor visit
The FDA is urging anyone with a St. Jude-branded pacemaker to immediately schedule an appointment with your doctor. Models affected include Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Accent ST, Assurity and Allure.
Your doctor will update your pacemaker's firmware to include security patches for vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to access your pacemaker. Abbott pacemakers made on August 28 or later already have the security patch.
Note: Please discuss any risks with your doctor. Your pacemaker will be in backup mode for about three minutes while the security patch is uploaded. There are small but significant risks, including a 0.003 percent chance that there will be a complete loss of your pacemaker's functionality.