Feeds

Captain Cyborg sidekick implants virus-infected chip

First Mate Malware and the infected pacemakers of doom

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

A second transhumanist RFID-chipping nut has emerged from the academic community at the University of Reading.

Professor Kevin Warwick became famous years ago after claiming he was on the way towards becoming a cyborg after he implanted a simple RFID chip in his arm, which allowed sensors to register his presence and perform simple actions such as opening a door. The same thing could be done by putting the same chip on an Oyster-card style device, of course, but that's nowhere near as tasty a morsel for mainstream media consumption. The prof has enjoyed a lucrative media and book career on the back of this exercise.

Now Dr Mark Gasson, a senior research fellow at Reading University's Cybernetic Intelligence Research Group, has managed to extract further publicity from a variant of much the same pointless experiment, featuring technology more commonly used to chip domestic pets and unspecified computer malware. Gasson surgically implanted an RFID chip infected by malware into his hand. He claimed this made him the first human to become "infected with a computer virus".

Gasson told the BBC that the exercise illustrated a new type of risk, even going so far as to suggest implanted devices such as heart pacemakers might become infected with something like a worm that spread to other implanted devices on other people.

Computer security experts were quick to describe the experiment as an absurd exercise in scaremongering. To be a genuine security concern on any level a hacker would need to be able to infect an implanted RFID chip. And the practical problems don't stop there. "The fact is that that code would not be read until an RFID reader came into contact with the affected RFID chip and even then the software connected with the RFID reader would need to have a vulnerability that would allow the code to be run," explains Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

"The way they are presenting their research is scaremongering nonsense that doesn't present the true nature of this, frankly, non-threat," he added.

Sunbelt Software security researcher Chris Boyd is equally dismissive. "Coming soon: I sew an infected bluetooth phone into my chest and claim to be infected by virus. For realz," Boyd writes, via an update on Twitter.

Gasson (in a nice touch sat next to a life-size Dalek model in a robotics lab) explains his experiment in a video interview with BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones (below). Beyond saying that malware-infected heart pacemakers are not a risk at present at the end of the report, Cellan-Jones allows the publicity-hungry academic to make his claims without challenging their plausibility.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.