In association with heise online

26 May 2010, 17:02

Scientist self-"infects" with computer virus

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • submit to slashdot
  • StumbleUpon
  • submit to reddit

Virus A British scientist has been implanted with an RFID chip that contains a computer virus. The virus is reportedly able to infect RFID readers and in this way spread to further RFID chips.

In first tests for his proof-of-concept study, Mark Gasson at the University of Reading has reportedly already managed to transfer the virus to other systems from the chip implanted in his finger. Gasson, who became known for such projects as his research into coupling the human nervous system with computers, has launched these tests to highlight the risks of the increasingly popular medical RFID implants.

Such implants can serve a variety of purposes, including the identification of Alzheimer patients or unconscious patients. In early 2002, for instance, a family in the US caused a stir because all the family members wanted to have transponder chips implanted for medical reasons. However, vendor PositiveID, formerly called VeriChip, in addition to RFID chips that provide identity also manufactures implants which measure blood sugar levels and can be read using wireless technology.

Gasson criticises that the use of RFID implants (with dubious benefits) has become increasingly popular and commercialised, especially in the US. The scientist points out that the technological advancements of critical implants such as pacemakers and cochlear implants also make these components vulnerable to unauthorised access and manipulations. Gasson intends to present further results of his studies at the forthcoming "International Symposium for Technology and Society" in Australia.

Mark Gasson's concerns aren't new, as Minix creator Andrew Tanenbaum already presented very similar ideas in mid 2006. Tanenbaum even wrote a virus for vendor Oracle's RFID middleware which managed to use the 128 bytes of available transponder memory to store a virus capable of spreading through a database.

See also:


Print Version | Send by email | Permalink:

  • July's Community Calendar

The H Open

The H Security

The H Developer

The H Internet Toolkit