Bulwark: Securing implantable medical devices communication channels

Lake Bu, Mark G. Karpovsky, Michel A. Kinsy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Implantable medical devices (IMDs) have been used to manage a broad range of diseases and ailments. They are convenient for patients due to their small sizes, unobtrusiveness and portability using wireless monitors or controllers. However, the wireless communication between these devices and their controllers often lacks security features or mechanisms. This lack of security makes the use of these devices a fertile ground for passive and active attacks. Unlike other cyber attacks which target victims’ information or property, attacks on medical devices can threaten a victim's life. Currently, there are very few efficient solutions to these attacks which balance security, reliability, and power consumption. Therefore, in this work, we propose a robust approach for guarding against existing and potential communication-based attacks on IMDs while keeping the added hardware and power consumption low. In addition, we introduce a secure and efficient protocol for authorizing third-party medical teams to access the IMDs in the case of an emergency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-511
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Security
StatePublished - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • AMD codes
  • Authentication
  • Encryption
  • Implantable medical devices
  • Man-In-The-Middle
  • Robust codes
  • Security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Law


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