Man Infects Himself With Computer Virus

Man infects himself with computer virus

A British scientist has infected himself with a computer virus. Take a second and let those words sink in. Ten years ago, people still carried pagers, now a man has a computer chip inside of him, and it is infected with a virus to boot. The future is nigh.

Dr. Mark Gasson is a cybernetics researcher at the University of Reading in England, and in some ways he is a real life six million dollar man. Of course, six million dollars won’t get you quite as far as it got Steve Austin, a single chip will have to suffice. Gasson has a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip implanted in his wrist that allows him to do certain things, such as open keycard locked doors, and operate his cell phone. The technology for this type of device has been around for a few years now, but Gasson wanted to test the security behind the RFID chips, so he infected his with a benign computer virus according to PC World.

Gasson and his group of researchers created the virus, then embedded it in Gasson’s chip. When Gasson entered the lab and the RFID chip signaled a security door to open, the system that accepted the information to make the door unlock, also accepted the virus. From there, the virus began to replicate, and any other person that swiped their card, or used their RFID chip to interact with the infected computer, then became a carrier for the virus.

The virus Gasson created was harmless, but his point was to show that cybernetic computers are not immune, and viruses can be transmitted wirelessly into the computer. In simple and practical terms, this means any hacker that could infect an RFID chip could write a virus that would give them access to the highly secure lab.

Hacking an RFID chip itself is nothing new, nor is it particularly dangerous except in terms of security, but many bionic chips are designed to help people physically.  Pacemakers, cochlear implants for the hearing-impaired and neurological implants for example, could potentially face electronic viruses that become life threatening, according to Gasson.

Gasson’s experiment was designed to point out the potential security holes in cybernetic chips now, rather than later when they are more widespread.  But not everyone agrees with his assessments.

Networkworld is reporting that security vendor Sophos is claiming the risk to be so minimal, that Gasson’s experiment is little more than a publicity stunt.

“Any virus code on the RFID chip would be utterly incapable of running unless a serious security hole existed in the external device reading it,” said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for Sophos. “RFID chips normally just have data read from them, rather than ‘executed’, so the chances of a virus infection spreading in this fashion is extremely remote.”

While the RFID chips can accept information that may contain a virus, and that virus could potentially be transmitted between two RFID chips in close proximity, the virus would need an operating system connected to an RFID reader.

“The main progress that appears to have been made from such research is not a contribution to computer security, but a full-proof method of ensuring that university staff don’t forget their office door pass in the morning,” Cluley said. “Predictions of pacemakers and cochlear implants being hit by virus infections is the very worst kind of scaremongering.”

Of course, that is what they said about the onboard computers in cars, right up until a group discovered how to hack those.

Photography

The Loupedeck Plus custom keyboard will make you feel like a pro video editor

With recently added support for Final Cut Pro X, the Loupedeck Plus improves speed and accuracy for video editors. With a collection of customizable buttons and dials, the Loupedeck can almost completely replace a mouse and keyboard setup.
Computing

Monzo will launch its banking app in the U.S., but it may be a hard sell

Monzo, a popular mobile banking app from the U.K., will launch this summer in the United States, but its plan for a slow release and an initially feature-light banking app may be a hard sell for its prospective U.S. customers.
Computing

Apple just registered seven new MacBooks, but what are they? Let’s speculate

When Apple registers new devices, that usually means they’re only weeks away from being released. The company has just registered seven new devices -- but are they Airs, Pros or something else entirely?
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.
Deals

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.
Computing

If you need your laptop to be large, these ones are most in charge

Whether you're in the market for a mobile workstation or a gaming behemoth, there's probably something in the 15-inch form factor that can fit the bill. Here, we've rounded up the best 15-inch laptops available.
Computing

AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019

AMD's Threadripper may be set to deliver the killing blow to Intel in Q4 2019, with a rumor suggesting a new Zen 2-based Threadripper line is coming down the pipe with a top chip that has as many as 64 cores.
Computing

Need more pixels? These 4K laptops have the eye-popping visuals you crave

If you're looking for the best 4K laptops, you need to find one that has powerful internal hardware, and doesn't scrimp on weight and battery life. All of these 4K notebooks are great options, but which one is the right one for you?
Photography

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.
Computing

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.
Deals

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Leaked date and what you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a month away, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Computing

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.
Computing

15-inch laptops come with extra power, but which of these wields it better?

HP's latest "gem-cut" Spectre x360 15 adds powerful components to make it the fastest 2-in-1 we've ever tested. Can it take on the equally fast and incredibly svelte Dell XPS 15?