Scientist infects himself with computer virus
Dr. Mark Gasson contaminated a computer chip inserted in his hand for research
Dr. Mark Gasson, a scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, has become the first human to be infected by a computer virus.
Gasson purposely contaminated a computer chip which has been inserted into his hand as part of research into the potential risks involved with implanted devices such as heart pacemakers and human enhancement.
"Our research shows that implantable technology has developed to the point where implants are capable of communicating, storing and manipulating data," Gasson said. "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."
A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip was implanted into Gasson's left hand in 2009, allowing him secure access to the University building and his mobile phone, and enabling him to be tracked constantly. Once he became infected with the virus, the chip corrupted the main system used to communicate with it.
"Much like people with medical implants, after a year of having the implant, I very much feel that it is part of my body. 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," Gasson added.
Gasson will present results of his experiment in June at the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society in Australia.