First Human Is Infected With Computer Virus
Pacemakers, defibrillators, cochlear implants... and many other medical devices on the implant track, are at risk for hacking, just as the medical community and patients with implants feared. But it was reported today that an implant hacking actually took place, when a British scientist became the first human to be infected by a computer virus through his implant.
Mark Gasson, from the University of Reading's School of Systems Engineering in Britain, had a device implanted in his left hand. A modified RFID chip, similar to those used to tag pets, was implanted in his hand as an experiment by Gasson to test if he could wirelessly activate mobile phones and pass through security doors.
But Gasson's implanted chip was hacked and infected with a computer virus that not only duplicated his chip but added code to it before replicating itself into other connected devices.
While the damage to Gasson was not life threatening, the fact that it happened shows how vulnerable medical implants can be. "If someone can get online access to your implant, it could be serious," Gasson said. "It is possible that you could create a virus that completely corrupts the device to the point where it does not work any more."
"In the future, someone who is carrying an infected medical device could feasibly infect someone else," Gasson added. "Technology will need to keep pace with this so that implants, including medical devices, can be safely used in the future."