Can Your Hearing Aids Be Hacked?

Medical technology has advanced a great deal in recent years, enabling assistive devices to help patients manage their health in new ways. Hearing aids are no exception. New technology in hearing aids, like wireless streaming, Bluetooth® connectivity, and remote access to a hearing care professional, offer greater convenience to wearers while helping them hear.

But does this new level of connectivity include some risks? After all, it seems every day there’s a new story about something being hacked—emails, servers, credit card information, and more. While it’s normal to worry about someone hacking into your email or accessing your financial information, should you also be worried about your hearing aids getting hacked?

Concerns of modern technology

With hearing aids now connected to the internet and other devices, there is legitimate reason to be concerned about their cybersecurity—as well as the security of other connected biomedical devices, like pacemakers or insulin pumps.

Though it seems like something out of a spy movie, there is real concern that if someone were to hack hearing aids, they could potentially listen in on others’ conversations, hearing exactly what the hearing aid wearer does. Just consider how former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had to gain security clearance for his Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. Given the information he had access to, it’s no wonder the very idea of someone hacking his hearing aids would be an issue of national security.

But it’s not just about privacy. Another concern is hackers deliberately messing around with your hearing aid settings, changing the volume, and causing further damage to your hearing. Or, hackers could possibly block the hearing aids from functioning until paid a ransom. Essentially the same threats and concerns affecting all aspects of digital life can be cause for concern for a hearing aid wearer, only your hearing health is at risk.

Good news about hearing aid safety

Despite these concerns, the good news is that there has yet to be reported any major hacking of hearing aids or other medical devices. To further prevent such an event, the Food and Drug Administration provides guidance for mitigating and managing the threat of cybersecurity throughout the entire product lifecycle. The FDA can also block medical devices from being made available to patients if the devices don’t meet the agency’s cybersecurity standards.

We hope you feel relieved that your hearing aids are unlikely to be hacked, but as with any connected device, the threat may always exist. Fortunately, medical device manufacturers like Signia are committed to removing the risk of hacking. Through secure wireless technology and encryptions, you can be confident your Signia hearing aids work as intended, have a high level of cybersecurity, and remain out of hackers’ reach.