Just as health authorities around the world are gearing up for a possible swine flu pandemic, devices in some hospitals are showing signs of having fallen prey to a more insidious infection – the Conficker worm.
According to a report in the Mercury News, hundreds of medical devices in hospitals in the US have been invaded by the Conficker malware, which has the potential to threaten hospital operations.
Patches are available to counter the Conficker threat, but US legislation mandates a 90-day notice period before hospital equipment may be patched.
A number of devices, including MRI machines, have been identified as infected with the worm and many are attempting to retreive instructions from remote computers.
It is feared that the infection could pose a threat to patient records, which are confidential.
The invasion of medical devices opens up the possibility that devices or embedded computers in other industries are also infected and could be sending information to the malware authors.