Scientist Infects Himself With Computer Virus

Financial Times (05/26/10) Palmer, Maija

University of Reading scientist Mark Gasson has deliberately infected himself with a computer virus in order to study the potential risks of implanting electronic devices in humans. Gasson implanted a radio frequency identification chip into his left hand last year.

The chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, gives him secure access to Reading’s buildings and his mobile phone. Gasson then introduced a computer virus into the chip. He says the infected microchip contaminated the system that was used to communicate with it, and notes that it would have infected any other devices it was connected to.

Gasson says the experiment provides a “glimpse at the problems of tomorrow,” considering devices such as heart pacemakers and cochlear implants are essentially mini-computers that communicate, store, and manipulate data. “This means that, like mainstream computers, they can be infected by viruses and the technology will need to keep pace with this so that implants, including medical devices, can be safely used in the future,” he says.

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