Home > All, Security Issues > The mad scientist at Reading may be mad; but he might not be wrong

The mad scientist at Reading may be mad; but he might not be wrong

There is a lot of noise on the blogosphere about the ‘human computer virus’. The BBC runs a story:

A British scientist says he is the first man in the world to become infected with a computer virus.

Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading contaminated a computer chip which was then inserted into his hand.
First human ‘infected with computer virus’

But AV experts are quick to pour scorn on the idea.

but if you haven’t figured it out by now, the whole thing is complete rubbish.
Kurt Wismer

Well done to Dr Gasson for getting some media exposure for his department, but this really is shonky research in my opinion.

Yes, you could put software code on an RFID chip that you could put in your body (or your cat, as some Dutch researchers theorised in rather hysterical fashion back in 2006) but so what?

The fact is that that code would not be read until an RFID reader came into contact with the affected RFID chip and even then the software connected with the RFID reader would need to have a vulnerability that would allow the code to be run.
Graham Cluley

But I’m not so sure. Two things worry me. For years I’ve reading about the mad scientists at Reading University experimenting with chipping human beings. What happens when we get the mad politicians of the Labour Party back in power? A national ID card in the wallet is bad enough; but a national ID Card under the skin is terrifying – and ultimately inevitable.

But my second fear is more to the point. Gasson is talking about an RFID chip. OK, that’s not the danger he seems to describe. But do we really think implants will stop at RFID? I can certainly envisage a future where chips will be used to modify behaviour – perhaps to control bi-polar, regulate hearts, control paedophilia… It will reduce NHS costs and Prison Service costs and money is always a compelling argument.

These chips will accept input from the body, process them, and return outputs to the body. They will be miniature computers within the human body – and these chips will be susceptible to viruses.

Categories: All, Security Issues
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