Programmers Expose Vulnerabilities with Patient Medical Records

Many medical institutes in the United States use some type of software to manage their records. It eliminates the use of paper, makes transferring information easier, and provides an easy to access database.

Most would assume that such a system is also very secure. But programmers and physicians from the University of California recently showed that vulnerabilities exist in medical record systems.

Are Medical Records Unsafe?

The group of physicians and computer scientists wanted to show that it is possible to hack the medical records of specific patients. And they did it by targeting the connection between a medical record system and the lab devices at hospitals.

Before anyone is alarmed, the study did not target an actual medical institute. Everything was recreated in a controlled environment so proper testing could be done.

The team created a testbed that had medical lab equipment, testing devices, computers and servers. They were able to run the types of tests that patients would get if they went into the ER for surgery or any other type of emergency.


What they were able to achieve will worry a lot of people. Not only was the team able to get their hands on information that is meant to be confidential, but they were able to change the results.

Stealing and Adjusting Medical Information

The way most hospitals work is that when a patient is put through a test, results are automatically fed into the system. Some machines may still be analogue, which requires a medical assistant or nurse to do the job in real time.

Say a patient comes into the ER and they get a blood test and an EKG. The results are automatically or manually entered into the system. These records can be viewed online, seen by relevant doctors or transferred to a primary care physician.

The team at UC San Diego managed to infiltrate the system by launching a “man in the middle attack.” It is the type of attack where a computer gets in between the lab equipment and the medical records to steal or modify information.

They were able to adjust the blood test results to show different values. While the test results were normal, the hacker was able to make it look as though the patient was suffering from severe diabetes. Such a diagnosis would lead to a nurse giving the patient specific medicine. And the medicine would cause a healthy patient to go into a coma.


Hacks Could Target Important People

While the researchers do not see such a vulnerability as compromising the average patient, there is a worry about how a more important person could be targeted. A celebrity, activist, government official or other important figure could be targeted by hackers, foreign governments or other malicious entities.

Breaches of sensitive data from insurance companies like Allstate, financial services companies like Sambla, and health service providers like Aetna are especially concerning due to the nature of the data exposed.

The danger is not just about medical information being stolen or the patient being incorrectly diagnosed. The worry is that if such a man in the middle attack were done in real time, patients could be mistakenly given medicine that can kill them.

How to make your own video game

Everyone dreams of making their own game, and with the resources and knowledge available now to those dreamers, it’s easier than ever to get things made. With a little coding know-how and some information, a dream can become a reality and a video game can be born.

The first thing to consider is what game engine you will use. Whether it will be the pixel graphics and minimalist details of various indie games on the market or will be the next masterpiece in terms of graphics and effects, picking someone else’s game engine is superior to creating your own.

The engine will mostly include the foundations for a game, including textures, models, and the base code for scripting events, which is what most modders and game dev’s use to create their own versions of a video game.

Other tools

Frameworks also provide a barebones software that gives you the templates to create whatever you want, while still allowing you to program and code whatever you want into a game. Many frameworks are free, open source, and have dedicated and experienced communities that allow for questions to be asked and answered.

Programs such as HTML or Java are used by real developers to create their games and learning the programming languages behind the games that you are inspired by/want to emulate can also give you an edge. Python, Ruby, and other codes are also just as powerful and beginner friendly.

Create a plan

What is the game going to be about? Dragons, monsters, a hero who is just trying to get the girl? Take a lot of time to flesh out the characters, the backstory, and the various puzzles and challenges in each area. While this probably won’t be the official backstory or plot of the game, having some sort of plan for the game will give a goal to work towards.

Then gathering the tools to create the art and story is next, and various pieces of open source sound, music, and art exist in the world. In addition, Pixel art or even just using graphics or symbols to represent the characters also works as a low budget expense for the first game.

Learning the scripting language is next, as it works like any other script by telling the game what to do and when to do it. If you are using an existing engine, then the language already exists and more than likely has a guide to using it.

Depending on the type of game, scripts can either be very light and not impact the game or heavy and make the game dependent on them.

Create levels.

Then creating levels and working on the characters is the next step, before testing the game and ensuring that everything works out before building more and more. People can help playtest the game and show you how people will play or react to it, and then it can be released to the public.

Creating a game is hard work, and it won’t be easy, but it can be done and you could create the next big hit.

Talking to the machine

We’ve all been a situation where someone who doesn’t speak our native language tries to talk to us, and then we have to rely on other methods of communication to get our points across. Computers can have the same problem too, where they have their own language.

Everything that humans program machines to do is in a language called a binary, and you can think of it as a translator. We humans type in code in a programming language, and then the binary turns it into something that the computer can understand.

By doing this process, the computer can understand countless walls of information as it scrolls through the tasks that a human programmed it to do. Several types of code are in use for different programs and machines, and all of them to a different job.



This is one of the easiest ones for people to learn and is often common for many people and businesses to use and manipulate since it is so flexible. Employers who use information, engineering, and even some websites such as Google, YouTube, and even NASA all use Python to keep them going.

The language is simple to read and translate, has countless ‘dictionaries’ all around the internet to help people understand it, and can be manipulated in various ways for dozens of applications.


This, much like coffee itself, can be turned into several websites and give countless features with a little bit of everything for everyone. The website can be used for communications, finances, hospitality, and education. It’s used for the cloud, the internet of things, and dozens of websites.

Java is used for video games such as Minecraft, mobile games, and it is even downloaded with several apps and games in order to give that program a new function. Java has a massive ‘dictionary’ and a very well-defined language, making everything easy to use.


This is the basic coding of web pages and website design and allows for text and images to be formatted in a website. You have probably seen HTML at the end of a URL, especially for email sites. Web development and email servers and are used for almost any and all web pages.

HTML is common, free and also one of the easiest and beginner friendly codes to learn, chances are if you have made a webpage, then you have used it before.


It isn’t related to Java, but it is used in sites such as WordPress and Khan Academy, and even in gaming development. This allows for web pages to be used in new ways, such as being able to scroll and manipulate items for video games.

Much like HTML, it is easy to use and very common, and the two coding languages are often used hand in hand to create a website.

Pick the language that works for you

By picking the correct language and learning how to use it effectively, even something as simple as creating a webpage can be a test of your coding knowledge.

InspireID Hopes to Expand the Reach of Programming

A collective project involving Apple, the University of Idaho and the Innovation Collective is hoping to bring programming to new communities.

There is a stereotype of the typical programmer and these organizations want to change that perception. They also want to get more people involved in an industry that is growing rapidly.

Programming is the future and getting more people involved will only help it grow.

What is InspireID?

Given that programming is something that can be done with a laptop from a coffee shop, it is remarkable how it appears restricted to certain areas of the country.

In places such as Silicon Valley, programming is a way of life. But talk to people in rural communities or low income urban centers and it is a different story. These are individuals who have simply not been exposed to programming in the same way.

And not everyone has the resources or opportunity to move to Silicon Valley if they want to learn programming or become immersed in the industry. It is why InspireID was started – to bring programming to these people.

Targeting New Programmers

The program will focus on Idaho, given the university’s involvement. It will attempt to create opportunities for people in low to moderate income areas to become involved with this industry. Rural areas will also be targeted.

There are many people in such areas who have an interest in technology. But they do not have the time or money to get a post-secondary degree to pursue that goal.

InspireID wants to help these people learn about programming, without making it an expensive or time consuming process.

Swift Programming Language

The focus of these lessons will revolve around the Swift programming language. It is a very fast growing language, which is intended as an open source replacement for the C-based programming languages that have dominated the community for so long.

Given Swift is a language that Apple has adopted for use on smartphones and tablets, it is no wonder it is growing at such a rapid rate. Apple has a vested interest in Swift growing. And given it is easily accessible on Github, it is the perfect programming language for new coders to learn.


Apple’s Involvement

While the University of Idaho and Innovation Collective are doing the bulk of the work on this project, Apple is involved. They will provide guidance and expertise where it is deemed necessary.

The company is also committed to offering discounts on Macbooks for people who are involved with the program. And that will be a huge help for people who may not have the right type of device to comfortably learn programming.

Learn Programming at a Steady Pace

The course will involve a 180-hour learning experience for students who may have no prior experience with programming. And it can be completed at each student’s own pace. Those who need to work or study other subjects while learning programming can do so without a problem.

InspireID is an ambitious project. And if it succeeds, it could birth similar projects in other states.