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AUSCERT External Security Bulletin Redistribution
St. Jude Merlin@home Transmitter Vulnerability
8 February 2017
AusCERT Security Bulletin Summary
Operating System: Network Appliance
Impact/Access: Access Privileged Data -- Remote/Unauthenticated
Provide Misleading Information -- Remote/Unauthenticated
CVE Names: CVE-2017-5149
Revision History: February 8 2017: Five (5) parts updated of initial advisory.
January 10 2017: Initial Release
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St. Jude Merlin@home Transmitter Vulnerability (Update A)
Original release date: January 09, 2017 | Last revised: February 06, 2017
All information products included in http://ics-cert.us-cert.gov are provided
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This updated advisory is a follow-up to the original advisory titled
ICSMA-17-009-01 St. Jude Merlin@home Transmitter Vulnerability that was
published January 9, 2017, on the NCCIC/ICS-CERT web site.
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MedSec Holdings has identified a channel accessible by nonendpoint
(man-in-the-middle) vulnerability in St. Jude Medical's Merlin@home
transmitter, which affects both the RF and inductive models. St. Jude Medical
has validated the vulnerability and produced a new software version that
mitigates this vulnerability. A third-party security research firm has
verified that the new software version mitigates the identified vulnerability.
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This vulnerability could be exploited remotely. An attacker with high skill
would be able to exploit this vulnerability.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a safety communication on
January 9, 2017, Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Identified in St. Jude Medicals
Implantable Cardiac Devices and Merlin@home Transmitter, to alert users about
the identified vulnerability and corresponding mitigation as well as to
provide recommendations to patients and healthcare providers. In response,
ICS-CERT is releasing this advisory to provide additional information to
patients and healthcare providers.
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The following Merlin@home transmitters are affected:
Merlin@home, versions prior to Version 8.2.2:
RF models: EX1150,
Inductive models: EX1100, and
Inductive models: EX1100 with MerlinOnDemand capability.
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Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may allow a remote attacker to
access or influence communications between Merlin.net and transmitter
ICS-CERT recommends that patients and healthcare providers evaluate the impact
of this vulnerability based on their specific usage after reviewing the
information referenced in this advisory and to contact the vendor for
assistance with any questions or concerns related to this vulnerability.
St. Jude Medical is a US-based company headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The affected product, the Merlin@home transmitter, allows for remote care
management of patients with implanted cardiac devices through scheduled
transmissions, patient-initiated transmissions, and daily monitoring.
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According to St. Jude Medical, Merlin@home transmitter inductive models can
have the MerlinOnDemand capability enabled. The MerlinOnDemand capability is a
configuration that allows for multiple-patient use in healthcare facilities.
The Merlin@home transmitter inductive models, with MerlinOnDemand capability
enabled, is used by healthcare professionals to read patient Implantable
Medical Devices (IMDs) data during office visits. Inductive Merlin@home
transmitters with MerlinOnDemand capability enabled contain the same hardware
and software as other inductive Merlin@home transmitters, but with slightly
different capability, resulting from a different configuration on the
server/Merlin.net side, which is controlled by St. Jude Medical. The
Merlin@home transmitter inductive model with the MerlinOnDemand capability
enabled is set up to pair with multiple IMDs, which differs from the
Merlin@home transmitter that has not enabled this capability, as it is
intended for home use. Also, the Merlin@home transmitter inductive model with
MerlinOnDemand capability enabled does not use RF to communicate with IMDs.
Instead, it uses close range impedance telemetry.
According to St. Jude Medical, the Merlin@home transmitter inductive models
are deployed across the Healthcare and Public Health sector. St. Jude Medical
estimates that Merlin@home transmitters inductive models, with MerlinOnDemand
capability enabled, correspond to approximately 0.1 percent of the total
Merlin@home transmitters available and that these products are used worldwide.
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CHANNEL ACCESSIBLE BY NONENDPOINT (MAN-IN-THE-MIDDLE)[a]
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The identities of the endpoints for the communication channel between the
transmitter and St. Jude Medicals web site, Merlin.net, are not verified. This
may allow a remote attacker to access or influence communications between the
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CVE-2017-5149[b] has been assigned to this vulnerability. A CVSS v3 base score
of 8.9 has been assigned; the CVSS vector string is
This vulnerability could be exploited remotely.
EXISTENCE OF EXPLOIT
No known public exploits specifically target this vulnerability.
An attacker with high skill would be able to exploit this vulnerability.
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St. Jude Medical has developed an updated software version for all Merlin@home
transmitters, including inductive Merlin@home transmitters with the
MerlinOnDemand capability, which mitigates the identified vulnerability and
provides additional security enhancements.
The new version of the transmitter software, Version 8.2.2, will be
automatically updated over a period of several months, when all models of the
Merlin@home transmitters are connected to an Ethernet, WiFi, cellular network,
or a landline. St. Jude Medical recommends that users keep Merlin@home
transmitters powered and connected at all times to receive this update and
For additional information about the vulnerability or the software update
process, users can review information from St. Jude Medical at:
(link is external)
Patients and healthcare providers with questions can call the Merlin hotline
1-877-696-3754 or visit www.sjm.com/Merlin (link is external) for more
The FDA issued a safety communication on January 9, 2017, Cybersecurity
Vulnerabilities Identified in St. Jude Medicals Implantable Cardiac Devices
and Merlin@home Transmitter, which includes recommendations for patients and
healthcare providers and is available at the following location:
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St. Jude Medical is continuing to work with ICS-CERT and the FDA to address
additional security issues that have been identified. As additional
information becomes available, ICS-CERT in coordination with the FDA, will
release additional information products.
ICS-CERT reminds Internet users that directly connecting any device to the
Internet without explicitly controlling communication with or access to the
connected device, significantly increases the risk of a cybersecurity-related
ICS-CERT provides recommended security practices on the ICS-CERT web page at
http://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/content/recommended-practices. ICS-CERT reminds
members of the healthcare and public health sector to perform proper impact
analysis and risk assessment prior to deploying defensive measures.
Additional mitigation guidance and recommended practices are publicly
available in the ICSCERT Technical Information Paper,
ICS-TIP-12-146-01B--Targeted Cyber Intrusion Detection and Mitigation
Strategies, that is available for download from the ICS-CERT web site
[a.] CWE-300: Channel Accessible by Non-Endpoint ('Man-in-the-Middle'),
http://cwe.mitre.org/data/definitions/300.html, web site last accessed January
[b.] NVD, http://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/detail?vulnId=CVE-2017-5149, NIST
uses this advisory to create the CVE web site report. This web site will be
active sometime after publication of this advisory.
[c.] CVSS Calculator,
web site last accessed January 9, 2017.
For any questions related to this report, please contact ICS-CERT at:
Toll Free: 1-877-776-7585
International Callers: (208) 526-0900
For industrial control systems security information and incident reporting:
ICS-CERT continuously strives to improve its products and services. You
can help by choosing one of the links below to provide feedback about
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