A British scientist claims to be the first human in the world to become infected with a computer virus.
Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading had a chip inserted in his hand which was then infected with a virus.
The device, which enables him to pass through security doors and activate his mobile phone, is a sophisticated version of ID chips used to tag pets.
In trials, Dr Gasson showed that the chip was able to pass on the computer virus to external control systems.
If other implanted chips had then connected to the system they too would have been corrupted, he said.
According to Dr Gasson, the test is a proof of principle but he thinks it has important implications for a future where medical devices such as pacemakers and cochlear implants become more sophisticated, and risk being contaminated by other human implants.
“With the benefits of this type of technology come risks. We may improve ourselves in some way but much like the improvements with other technologies, mobile phones for example, they become vulnerable to risks, such as security problems and computer viruses.”
Adding that: “Many people with medical implants also consider them to be integrated into their concept of their body, and so in this context it is appropriate to talk in terms of people themselves being infected by computer viruses.”
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