Article Review: They Can Hear Your Heartbeats
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The article puts up a discussion on the evaluation of the feasibility of protecting an implantable medical device from attacks that are attributed to unauthorized commands to the IMDs without the need for modifying the IMD itself in any way. Moving further, the article presents a physical layer solution that is able to delegate the security aspect of IMDs to a distinctive personal base station, the shield. It is noted that the shield utilizes a unique novel radio design that can play the role of a jammer-cum-receiver; a design that provides for the activity of jamming the IMDs messages hence, an immediate mode of preventing possible decoding and unauthorized commands from taking effect. The design is later implemented within a software radio for purposes of evaluating it with commercial based IMDs. It is concluded that the aforementioned implemented design is able to effectively avail for private data and, thus, protects the device from the unauthorized commands altogether.
Objectives of the Article
The article presents two fundamental objectives that are deemed necessary for the study at hand. Firstly, the objective rests with the exploration of the feasibility of protecting IMDs without the need for modifying them by means of implementing security models that focuses on an external device (Gollakota, Hassnieh, Ransford, Katabi, and Fu, 2011). Secondly, another key objective mentioned rests with the presentation of a design for which an external device, the shield, is able to be interposed between an IMD and potential counterparties like a worn-out near a formidable IMD. These objectives are deemed necessary and crucial since they expound on the degree of security of IMDs for all patients that have them installed.
Approach, Novelty and Technical Depth
The article uses experiment to ascertain the manner for which IMDs can be safely safeguarded from the unauthorized commands and other forms of attacks that might hinder its functionalities. For instance, the experiment is aimed at designing a small wearable radio that is used for purposes of jamming the IMDs signal, as well as acts to receive it altogether. A full duplex radio that uses two fundamental antennas is utilized in the experiment. These antennas are the jamming antenna and the receive antenna that helps the IMDs operate within a 400MHz band with a subsequent wavelength that does not surpass 75cm (Gollakota et al. 2011). significantly, the article provides an in-depth analysis of the jamming antenna that is clearly used in the entire experiment. It is noted that a jamming antenna is used for the transmission of a random signal in order to prevent possible eavesdroppers from being able to decode the transmission from IMDs installed in patients.
In short, the article prvides detailed and technical information pertaining to what was actually done in order to assist with future research. A technical analysis of all of the features and their respective models used in developing the experiment, like the shields used, antennas and prototypes are provided without fail.
Major Strengths and Weaknesses of the Article
Some of the major strengths that can be attributed to the article include the following ones. Firstly, the article provides a distinctive introduction section where a clear purpose of the paper is stated. The introduction provides a succinct thesis statement, as well as two fundamental objectives that allow a reader to understand beforehand what is actually being discussed within the entire article. Secondly, the article can enhance the discussion by way of availing distinctive assumptions for purposes of clarifying information that might seem to be contradictory with the past studies. For instance, it is assumed that IMDs and authorized programmers are completely honest people that adhere to distinctive protocols specified by the FCC, as well as the manufacturers (Gollakota et al. 2011). It is also assumed that there is an access to a secure channel for purposes of transmissions between the authorized programmers and the shield. Thirdly, the article provides an abstract that avails a summary of what is expected or conducted within the paper. This section also ascertains the keywords and general terms that are used in formulating the study at hand. Fourthly, in the article, there is a section that depicts existing related work to that which is being investigated. This section avails recent unique innovations in a healthcare related communication platform. It is also stated that the design used for the experiment was motivated by past work conducted by Halperin et al. Lastly, the article avails information in addition to graphs and figures, which enhances a readers’ understandability.
The most fundamental weakness that can be associated with the article rests with the fact that it fails to follow a primary research design that is characterized by methodology, results and discussion sections. This would have helped the analysis and evaluation process given that the design places information in a rightful manner that reflects the study at hand in different perspectives. Another notable weakness that can be attributed to the article is that it fails to substantiate its objectives in a clear and distinct manner. It posits a challenge in trying to figure out the nature of the study.
What is Learnt from the Article
From this article, I understand that the Implantable Medical Devices can be corrupted and, thus, endanger the life of a patient. I realize that a patient is exposed to a greater risk, especially when the IMD is networked since it can be corrupted from different areas. I havve also learnt that there is a possibility of creating a shield that might be used for the purpose of protecting IMDs from the unauthorized intrusions with an aim of causing harm to a patient.
The approach discussed in this article is focused on preventing any possible intrusion from eavesdroppers on the transmission or ones that are able to send unauthorized commands. I think future work should involve devising ways that customize IMDs for each patient in order to avoid the general level intrusions. If I had to work on this problem, firstly, I would promote the technology of encryption rather than jamming messages as a way of preventing unauthorized commands from possible intruders. Secondly, I would ensure that manufacturers share a common design of IMDs in order to prevent time waste needed in seeking clearance before a health personnel can evaluate the device at any given moment in time. Thirdly, I would not substantiate a threat model of IMDs into passive and active adversaries rather, I would generalize intrusion as a whole. This would prevent any form of unauthorized access to the device irrespective of the approach used to penetrate its details. Lastly, if I had progressed with jamming of messages criterion, I would have used friendly jamming to prevent possible intrusion to RFID tags, sensor nodes, and IMDs.
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