A British scientist claims to have become the first human to be infected by a computer virus, in an experiment he says has important implications for the future of implantable technology. Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading infected a computer chip which was then implanted in his hand with the virus and then transmitted it to a PC to prove that malware can move between human and computer.”
The chip Gasson implanted into his left hand in 2009 is a high-end radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag similar to those implanted in pets, and it enables him to access his cell phone and his university building as well as be tracked and profiled. When he infected the chip with a virus, it corrupted the communication system, and could have easily spread to other implants had any been connected to this system.
“Much like people with medical implants, after a year of having the implant, I very much feel that it is part of my body,” said Gasson, who can be seen rubbing the surface of his hand affectionately in the BBC interview below. “While it is exciting to be the first person to become infected by a computer virus in this way, I found it a surprisingly violating experience because the implant is so intimately connected to me but the situation is potentially out of my control.”
The whole concept does address some of the issues we will start to face as implantable electronics become more prevalent and mainstream. When you’re talking about putting a chip inside your body, “blue screen of death” takes on a whole new meaning, as do the potential consequences of hacking and malicious security breaches.
Check out the video below and let us know what you think of Dr. Gasson’s “computer virus infection”.
Photo by SFB579