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Don’t Confuse Threat with Risk

Over the past few days, much has been written in the DOC about Medical Devices Susceptible to Hackers (Read Kerri’s interview with Jay Radcliffe and Kelly has one of the great posts with a list of links to other great posts about it as well.  Oh and don’t miss the list over at Trials & Tribulations of Being a Type 1 Diabetic).

Various media outlets had sensationalized headlines such as the one mentioned above.  But if you read closely, you’ll notice something.  Radcliffe had the knowledge, skills and inside information (such as the pump serial number).  It took all three components to make the hack even possible.

In the computer industry, which the Black Hat Digital Security Conference deals with, vulnerabilities such as these are often presented in the exact matter that Mr. Radcliffe presented his.  Designed to get attention so the vulnerability will, hopefully, get enough of a spotlight put on it that the manufacturers will address the problem.  I really have no issue with how he presented the information, as a matter of fact similar vulnerabilities have been found in pacemakers, presented at this exact conference in 2008.   As far as I can tell, there has not been a single reported case of this actually happening.

So here is my take.  Please take a moment as you read it to consider what I mean about threat being a different thing from risk.

The threat is real, it is reproducible and has been demonstrated.

The risk is of this threat actually affecting any random individual is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

©2011 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and


  • Kerri at

    :: applause ::

    • Scott Strange

      :: bows ::  hehe, thanks!

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  • Sara

    I wrote about this today too. And posted a picture of one of my cats. People were more fired up about the cat than the threat. Enough said.

    • Scott Strange

      Cats everywhere are a much larger risk to mankind…

  • Kelly Kunik

    Well done my friend!!!! And thanks for shout out! 😉 

    • Scott Strange

      Thanks Kelly and it was my pleasure

  • shannon

    nice one.

    • Scott Strange

      Thanks Shannon!

  • alexis

    I couldn’t agree more. I can’t walk around fearing a pump hacker…Diabetes itself is scary enough thank you!

    • Scott Strange

      You’re right Lexi, none of us can afford to do that, we have enough real problems to worry about without adding something like this to the mix

  • kim

    exactly my thoughts, but you put it much nicer than i would have!   LOL!  but seriously,  who would want to hurt us diabetics when we are quite capable of doing that ourselves? (and not on purpose either!)

    • Scott

      Cat. Cats would… /PutsOnTinfoilHat

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