Because of extensive advances of medical technology in recent years, assistance devices can further help patients manage their health in new ways. Hearing aids are an example. Bluetooth® connectivity, remote access to a hearing specialist, and wireless streaming increase patient convenience and assistance in hearing. But is there a risk? Credit card information, servers, emails, and more are hacked on a daily basis. Of course your financial information should be a cause for concern, but should you worry about your hearing aids being hacked, too?
Concerns with new technology
Cyber security with hearing aids and other biomedical devices, such as insulin pumps and pacemakers, which are linked to the internet, may engender some legitimate concern in patients. Although it may seem surreal, hacks on hearing aids can be a serious cause for worry. Hackers listening to patients’ conversations could possibly happen. The severity of concern is exemplified by a potential national risk, such as digital leaking of information to which the patient former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had access. A security clearance for his Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids was necessary to prevent the possibility. But privacy is not the only issue; hackers can disrupt the volume and settings of hearing aids, causing more hearing damage. A hacker may even demand a ransom to continue use of internet-connected hearing aids. Digital life is a reality in many ways, one of which affect may hearing aid users.
The good news
Hearing aid hacks have not yet happened to hearing aid wearers, nor have hacks on other medical devices occurred. The Food and Drug Administration offers help to prevent cyber security breaches of hearing aids throughout their entire time of use of the devices. As well, there is a standard to which manufactures must adhere. Hearing devices that don’t meet the federal bylaws established are blocked from disbursement. So, rest assured; despite any real concerns, major manufacturers, like Signia, Rexton, Starkey, and Phonak for instance, are diligent in removing potential hacks. These companies are committed to cyber security through encryption and secure wireless technology, they make sure your hearing aids are perfectly functional as intended and protected from security breaches. Contact a Pure Sound Hearing Aids specialist with any further concerns about hearing aid safety.