Researchers have recently discovered a pair of critical vulnerabilities in Alaris Gateway Workstations. These bring us closer to the tragic day when a hacker will actually be able to kill someone with code. Alaris workstations are used to deliver fluid medications. Given the severity of the flaws, a determined hacker could take full control over the workstation itself and any medical devices connecting to it.

One of the two flaws in the firmware has been given the highest possible severity score (a perfect 10) because it can be exploited remotely and without authentication. Disturbingly, that would allow the hackers to gain control of infusion pumps and control them during dialysis, chemotherapy, blood transfusions or anesthesia. It could even change the dose or withhold medication or anesthesia altogether if the hackers chose to do that.

The vulnerability is being tracked as CVE-2019-10959 and definitely bears watching if you’re involved in the health care field in any way. There is a rather significant catch that limits the danger posed by it.  Namely, the vulnerability is limited to a single BD infusion system that is not sold in the United States.

That’s not to say there’s not one in use somewhere in the country, but it would have arrived here by a curious road indeed.  It’s also worth mentioning that given the presence of this vulnerability, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that other vulnerabilities will be discovered that do impact equipment marketed and sold in the US.

The company that makes the devices, Becton Dickinson, has been made aware of the issue. They are currently working on a fix and promise to have a functional patch available within the next sixty days.

Until a patch is issued, the researchers that discovered the flaw recommend taking the following steps:

  • Block the SMB protocol
  • Segregate their VLAN network
  • Ensure that only appropriate associates have access to the customer network.

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