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Former UMass Amherst Faculty, Students Win IEEE Security and Privacy Test of Time Award for Paper Establishing Field of Medical Device Security

Kevin Fu

Former UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences faculty Kevin Fu and alums Thomas Heydt-Benjamin (MS '07), Benjamin Ransford (MS '10, PhD '13), Shane Clark (BS '07, MS '11, PhD '13), and Benessa Defend (MS '08) have received the inaugural IEEE Security and Privacy Test of Time Award for their 2008 paper establishing the field of medical device security, "Pacemakers and Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators: Software Radio Attacks and Zero-Power Defenses."

While teaching at UMass, Fu was invited to observe a cardiac defibrillator implant procedure, and discovered that it lacked wireless authentication. In their landmark paper, Fu and his collaborators established that they could exploit lack of authentication to steal private information from a range of implanted devices including pacemakers and defibrillators and send malicious control signals.

Based on this research, Fu and Ransford went on to found Virta Labs in Seattle, WA, which specializes in products that provide cybersecurity to hospitals. Fu also currently serves as associate professor at the University of Michigan, and as founder and director of the Archimedes Center for Medical Device Security. Heydt-Benjamin is now a senior research scientist at Perspecta Labs, and Clark is a research scientist at Raytheon BBN Technologies.

The award was presented on May 21, 2019 at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Francisco, CA.

Further coverage:

"Research responsible for establishing field of medical device security recognized by IEEE" - The Michigan Engineer News Center

"Groundbreaking study that served as the foundation for securing implantable medical devices earns IEEE Test of Time Award" - Allen School News

"Researchers Find Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators May Expose Patients to Security and Privacy Risks; Potential Solutions Suggested" - UMass Amherst News & Media Relations