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Human infected with computer virus

By C.J. CASTILLO
May 28, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
Updated May 29, 2010 at 12:29 a.m.


Great, now something else to worry about. Or is it?

A British researcher says he is the first human to become infected with a computer virus.

So how did this happen? Did a laptop sneeze on him? It's a little more involved than that.

Mark Gasson, senior research fellow at the University of Reading, infected a radio frequency identification chip with a virus and then placed the chip under the skin on his hand.

This chip allowed Gasson to go through security doors and activate his mobile phone. So that means instead of using a card to gain access to a secure building, he just waved his hand to enter.

Gasson implanted this infected chip as part of his research into human enhancement and the potential risks of implantable devices.

This research will prove beneficial especially as new forms of bionic devices, such as pacemakers, cochlear implants and deep brain stimulators, are used in the medical field.

As the technology behind these devices develop, they become vulnerable to computer viruses, Gasson said.

The infected chip implanted in Gasson corrupted the external computer controlling the chip. Since the virus on the chip was created for research purposes, it was not malicious, so no harm was done. But this shows how easy it would be for a virus to move between computers inside and outside the body, and possibly infect chips implanted in others.

The type of chip Gasson implanted is not widely available, so you don't have to worry about scanning yourself for viruses just yet. But as we see new technologies emerge, we'll have to keep an eye out for these new digital infections.

Can you imagine the day when we will not only have to keep up with virus updates on our computers, but also our bodies? Sounds like a movie to me.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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