Vibration-based secure side channel for medical devices

Younghyun Kim, Woo Suk Lee, Vijay Raghunathan, Niraj K. Jha, Anand Raghunathan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

44 Scopus citations


Implantable and wearable medical devices are used for monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of an ever-increasing range of medical conditions, leading to an improved quality of life for patients. The addition of wireless connectivity to medical devices has enabled post-deployment tuning of therapy and access to device data virtually anytime and anywhere but, at the same time, has led to the emergence of security attacks as a critical concern. While cryptography and secure communication protocols may be used to address most known attacks, the lack of a viable secure connection establishment and key exchange mechanism is a fundamental challenge that needs to be addressed. We propose a vibration-based secure side channel between an external device (medical programmer or smartphone) and a medical device. Vibration is an intrinsically short-range, user-perceptible channel that is suitable for realizing physically secure communication at low energy and size/weight overheads. We identify and address key challenges associated with the vibration channel, and propose a vibration-based wakeup and key exchange scheme, named SecureVibe, that is resistant to battery drain attacks. We analyze the risk of acoustic eavesdropping attacks and propose an acoustic masking countermeasure. We demonstrate and evaluate vibration-based wakeup and key exchange between a smartphone and a prototype medical device in the context of a realistic human body model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2015 52nd ACM/EDAC/IEEE Design Automation Conference, DAC 2015
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781450335201
StatePublished - Jul 24 2015
Event52nd ACM/EDAC/IEEE Design Automation Conference, DAC 2015 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Jun 8 2015Jun 12 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings - Design Automation Conference
ISSN (Print)0738-100X


Other52nd ACM/EDAC/IEEE Design Automation Conference, DAC 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation


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