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Dr. Mark Gasson
Infection was performed in a controlled research setting

British scientist Dr. Mark Gasson from the University of Reading inserted a contaminated version of an ID computer chip, normally used to track pets, into his hand to help prove that the chip was able to pass computer viruses on to other external control systems.

Dr. Gasson's chip allows him to pass through security doors and activate his cell phone. It uses ambient electromagnetic energy to transmit data. Through a series of tests, Dr. Gasson was able to show that the chip affects all surrounding computerized systems and if any other implanted chips connect to the system, they too would be damaged by the contaminated chip. 

While digital implants can be beneficial to the progress of cell phone technology, Dr. Gasson warns that problems can arise with having so many surrounding systems interacting this way.

"With the benefits of this type of technology come risks," said Dr. Gasson. "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."

Implant technology is also expected to traverse into the medical world (to some extent it already has). Human implants have the potential to put devices such as cochlear implants and pacemakers in jeopardy, according to Professor Rafael Capurro of the Steinbeis-Transfer-Institute of Information Ethics in Germany, who said "if someone can get online access to your implant, it could be serious."

"This type of technology has been commercialized in the United States as a type of medical alert bracelet, so that if you're found unconscious you can be scanned and your medical history brought up," said Dr. Gasson. 

Professor Capurro believes there are good and bad sides to the surveillance of implants. His concerns are with someone else tapping into another's implant and doing them harm as well as the abuse of human implants if used outside of the medical setting. Though Dr. Gasson believes that these implants will someday be in great demand for both medical and cosmetic procedures.

"If we can find a way of enhancing someone's memory or their IQ, then there's a real possibility that people will choose to have this kind of invasive procedure," added Dr. Gasson.

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Publicity stunt
By nafhan on 5/26/2010 5:27:14 PM , Rating: 5
Is it just me, or does this whole thing boil down to: "a computer virus can be transmitted wirelessly." We kind of already knew this. I would also hope medical device designers understand that making medical devices which can be remotely programmed through standard wireless protocals is A BAD IDEA. Really, anything that needs to be secure shouldn't have wireless at all.

RE: Publicity stunt
By dflynchimp on 5/26/2010 7:23:31 PM , Rating: 5
I'm in ur arteries, stealing ur chloresterolz.

-I3arracuda, DT

RE: Publicity stunt
By tallcool1 on 5/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: Publicity stunt
RE: Publicity stunt
By tjvanpat on 5/26/2010 8:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
You mean like this?

There isn't really any mention of what type of protocol is used, but I'll bet that it doesn't matter. If someone wants to intercept it badly enough, they'll find a way.

Also, I always assume that if data can get out, someone will find a way to get data in.

RE: Publicity stunt
By nafhan on 5/26/2010 11:27:20 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds like it's transmit only. If the data was intercepted or altered, there could be privacy implications, or worse, the doctor could be given information that makes it look like the patient is having medical trouble.
With internet connected computers "path out = possible path in" is a good thing to suspect, as pretty much all computers have the capability to connect bidirectionally, even if it's not being used. That's not necessarily true with other electronics, though. In your example for instance, it's very unlikely that the pacemaker has hardware for receiving a signal.

RE: Publicity stunt
By SlyNine on 5/27/2010 5:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
Your premise may be fallacious, Just because something can send data doesn't necessary mean it can receive data.

The point he was trying to make is that they should make it read only. So unless you can prove that you cannot make a device truly read only, then your conclusion may also be invalid.

RE: Publicity stunt
By tastyratz on 5/27/2010 8:34:09 AM , Rating: 2
He did what people normally don't but should do: err on the side of caution.
While its true that it doesn't necessarily mean a device can receive signals, one should treat them as if they can. Many of these devices are programmable and adjustable. Without a mysterious new posterior usb port "three hole" they are most likely wireless capable. Think a device that contains your always changing medical history isn't programmable? Likely scenario is that little to nothing implanted would be read only because information always changes.

Most of these technologies however are unintentionally based around one very extremely secure limitation: distance. They simply can not communicate over long distances. If this is used advantageously and appropriately then there will be no room for signal spoofing and long range attacks. Malicious intent would have happen in close proximity and at that point if someone wants to get you... they can just stab you if its not already obvious.

I think a starting point for security would be a secondary gateway chip with no more than a 6 inch range (or even better pressure activated) containing an encrypted hash authentication key to the primary chip.
The focus with medical chips wont have to be around impossible security, but enough delay to brute force that renders other methods time consuming enough to be ineffective.

RE: Publicity stunt
By nafhan on 5/27/2010 9:41:59 AM , Rating: 2
With the pacemaker thing, it looks like he's erring on the side of impossible.
Anyway, the distance thing is a really bad way to secure stuff. For one, it means anyone nearby could cause problems. Two, it's not unusual that someone determines a way to greatly expand the range of a wireless device. Authentication and encryption are great, but I really think the ability to update wirelessly is just a bad idea in anything as critical as a medical equipment.

who cares?
By Morphine06 on 5/26/2010 4:21:29 PM , Rating: 1
The all important pet identifying "system" was brought to its knees today when "Fluffy" was mistakenly identified as "L337 H4X0R", more boring news at 10.

RE: who cares?
By morphologia on 5/26/2010 4:44:15 PM , Rating: 5
Cat hackers will be the first to take advantage of this. You're sitting at home, calmly browsing on your iPad or whatever, and suddenly you get an IM that says "feed me now, n00b, or I gonna pwn ur a$$."

I can haz rootkits.

RE: who cares?
By Darkefire on 5/26/2010 5:43:33 PM , Rating: 5
My cats can already transmit that message, they just do it through social engineering.

RE: who cares?
By sviola on 5/27/2010 11:06:35 AM , Rating: 2
My cats can already transmit that message, they just do it through social engineering.

I was reading an article in a printed magazine last month that was about how cats over the last 5k years learnt and evolved to act like human babies so we could take care of them (our cats today have even more similar characteristics to babies than their ancestors).

RE: who cares?
By B3an on 5/26/2010 6:34:51 PM , Rating: 5
You've just given me an idea that could make the iPad actually be useful...

...a food tray?

RE: who cares?
By gorehound on 5/26/2010 6:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
In the old days we did Anarchy behavior by super-gluing bank doors and other businesses.
Now we can get an infected chip and do even more damage.

"contaminated "
By DatabaseMX on 5/26/2010 4:48:04 PM , Rating: 3
Define 'contaminated' ...


RE: "contaminated "
By thekdub on 5/26/2010 11:51:50 PM , Rating: 3
Two words: Zombie Robots.

By wiz220 on 5/26/2010 6:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
It uses ambient electromagnetic energy to transmit data

I always wondered how those chips were powered. That's friggin' awesome! Tesla had it right I suppose.

By taber on 5/26/2010 9:32:01 PM , Rating: 2
Before you commit that to memory, I'm going to challenge this article and say the author is wrong on this one. This sounds like it's a passive RFID system, if you go to the original BBC article they linked to it says the chip he used was a
sophisticated version of ID chips used to tag pets.
My point being those don't use "ambient" electromagnetic energy, they use electromagnetic energy generated by the reader, which is why they have such a short range. I'm pretty sure the method they use to transfer power decreases exponentially with respect to range. It's the same thing my work badge uses.

Anyhow a couple links to backup my argument:

By bubbastrangelove on 5/26/2010 5:02:53 PM , Rating: 3
This has got to be one of the worst collection of DT jokes I've read. Go give yourselves wedgies, each and every one you.

By captchaos2 on 5/26/2010 4:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
This is only the beginning. I'm going to hold out for a high IQ cyberbrain, 2 arificial eyes, and 2 of those arm implants (all seen here on DT) so I can get a job at section 9 next to batou. Ghost in the shell was dead on the money!

cats ...
By DatabaseMX on 5/26/2010 4:52:46 PM , Rating: 2
I actually have four (indoor only) cats, all with the HomeAgain chip implants - 'just in case'. And I've confirmed that my vet can read the ID of each one using their scanner. AFAIK ... it's a pretty cool system.

However, I did notice that last time we did a check, a Russian mobster was lurking outside the vet facility ... not sure if that means anything ?


As I said on Yahoo!...
By sleepeeg3 on 5/26/2010 10:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
What an idiot.

Missing the point
By Regected on 5/26/2010 10:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone is missing the point of this article. This is the same technology the US government has been planning to use for personal ID tags. Screw the cat and dog crap. If technology like this is used to legally id people, a hacker would easily ruin someone's life.

By poohbear on 5/28/2010 8:26:48 AM , Rating: 2
Skynet is coming. Beware.

Chips implanted
By Zoridon on 5/27/10, Rating: -1
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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