To the long list of objects vulnerable to attack by computer hackers, add the human heart.
The threat seems largely theoretical. But a team of computer security researchers plans to report Wednesday that it had been able to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker.
They were able to reprogram it to shut down and to deliver jolts of electricity that would potentially be fatal — if the device had been in a person. In this case, the researcher were hacking into a device in a laboratory.
The researchers said they had also been able to glean personal patient data by eavesdropping on signals from the tiny wireless radio that Medtronic, the device’s maker, had embedded in the implant as a way to let doctors monitor and adjust it without surgery.