Human Carries Computer Virus in Implant for the First Time

British scientist Dr. Mark Gasson from the University of Reading inserted a contaminated version of an ID computer chip, normally used to track pets, into his hand to help prove that the chip was able to pass computer viruses on to other external control systems.

Dr. Gasson's chip allows him to pass through security doors and activate his cell phone. It uses ambient electromagnetic energy to transmit data. Through a series of tests, Dr. Gasson was able to show that the chip affects all surrounding computerized systems and if any other implanted chips connect to the system, they too would be damaged by the contaminated chip.

While digital implants can be beneficial to the progress of cell phone technology, Dr. Gasson warns that problems can arise with having so many surrounding systems interacting this way.

"With the benefits of this type of technology come risks," said Dr. Gasson. "We may improve ourselves in some way but much like the improvements with other technologies, mobile phones for example, they become vulnerable to risks, such as security problems and computer viruses."

Implant technology is also expected to traverse into the medical world (to some extent it already has). Human implants have the potential to put devices such as cochlear implants and pacemakers in jeopardy, according to Professor Rafael Capurro of the Steinbeis-Transfer-Institute of Information Ethics in Germany, who said "if someone can get online access to your implant, it could be serious."

"This type of technology has been commercialized in the United States as a type of medical alert bracelet, so that if you're found unconscious you can be scanned and your medical history brought up," said Dr. Gasson.

Professor Capurro believes there are good and bad sides to the surveillance of implants. His concerns are with someone else tapping into another's implant and doing them harm as well as the abuse of human implants if used outside of the medical setting. Though Dr. Gasson believes that these implants will someday be in great demand for both medical and cosmetic procedures.

"If we can find a way of enhancing someone's memory or their IQ, then there's a real possibility that people will choose to have this kind of invasive procedure," added Dr. Gasson.

Tags: viruses

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