[LINK] Implant risks
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun May 30 21:06:56 AEST 2010
Scientist Becomes First Human 'Infected' With Computer Virus
As implantable medical device technology advances, so will potential
risks, researcher warns.
FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- Implantable devices, such as
pacemakers, defibrillators and cochlear implants, are becoming vulnerable
to "infection" with computer viruses, a researcher in England warns.
To prove his point, Mark Gasson, a scientist at the University of
Reading's School of Systems Engineering, allowed himself to become
Gasson said he became the first person in the world to be infected with a
computer virus after he "contaminated" a high-end radio frequency
identification (RFID) computer chip -- the kind often used as a security
tag in stores to prevent theft -- which he had implanted into his left
The point, Gasson explained, was to draw attention to the risks involved
with the use of increasingly sophisticated implantable medical device
"Our research shows that implantable technology has developed to the
point where implants are capable of communicating, storing and
manipulating data," he said in a university news release. "They are
essentially mini computers. 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."
Gasson is scheduled to present his findings at the IEEE International
Symposium on Technology and Society, held June 7 to 9 in Australia, for
which he also will serve as chairman.
The chip Gasson had implanted enabled him to access his place of work and
his cell phone, as well as allowing others to track and profile his
But once "infected," the chip disrupted the proper functioning of the
mainframe system with which it had been communicating, and would have
done the same to any other device that might have been similarly hooked
up to the network, he said.
"By infecting my own implant with a computer virus, we have demonstrated
how advanced these technologies are becoming and also had a glimpse at
the problems of tomorrow," Gasson said.
"Much like people with medical implants, after a year of having the
implant, I very much feel that it is part of my body," he added. "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."
More information about the Link