Could You Hack a Pacemaker? – Lessons from the 5th Cyber Security Summit

Alex Bustamante and Dr. Klonoff

By Yvonne Tevis and Alexa Rivetti.

The fifth biannual UC Cyber Security Summit was held in a hay barn.

At UC Santa Cruz, nearly 130 University of California personnel gathered in the lovely restored Cowell Ranch Hay Barn on April 25. But the topics were far from rustic.

Attendees included chief information officers, privacy officers, as well as UC Santa Barbara Chief Information Officer Matt Hall and UC Chief Compliance and Audit Officer Alex Bustamante, who is pictured (left) with David Klonoff, one of the presenters and a UCSF endocrinologist specializing in diabetes technology.

In his presentation, Dr. Klonoff described how cybersecurity breaches can put users of wearable and internet-connected medical devices (pacemakers, insulin pumps, etc.) at risk of health complications and disclosure of protected health information.Wirelessly Connected Device

His deep concern about these risks compelled him to work with the Diabetes Technology Society (DTS) to develop the first cybersecurity standard for connected diabetes devices.

Dr. Klonoff and the DTS then successfully engaged two preeminent standards organizations, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) and UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) not only to adopt the standard but also to agree to co-manage it. This co-management agreement is the first of its kind in the history of IEEE and UL, and helps ensure the standard reflects the best practices of each organization.

While there was plenty of sobering discussion on the cybersecurity threat landscape, a notable attribute of this summit was the feeling of hope in the air. Perhaps it was the commitment of people like Dr. Klonoff and all the other presenters, who with so much enthusiasm strive to improve security every day. Or perhaps it was because of the historic venue – the Cowell Ranch Hay Barn, an enduring symbol of resilience.

Cowell Rancho Hay Barn with Binary Code in Background


Yvonne TevisYvonne Tevis is editor of the UC IT Blog and chief of staff, Information Technology Services, UCOP.


Alexa RivettiAlexa Rivetti is IT communications coordinator, UCOP.

Comment (1)

  1. Marisa Strong

    Would be interested in hearing more about Dr. Klonoff’s presentation.
    Will the presentation slides available for non-registrants?


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