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Stanford Medicine


British scientist infects himself with a contagious computer virus

British scientist Mark Gasson, PhD, is the first person in the world to become infected with a computer virus, the BBC reported today.

Gasson infected an RFID chip that was implanted in his left hand last year. The chip communicates with a system that, among other things, tracks Gasson, allows him through secure doors and unlocks a mobile phone that only he can use. The virus on Gasson’s chip corrupted the system.

Gasson, a systems engineer at the University of Reading in the UK, studies implantable devices. These devices – which include pacemakers, cochlear implants, and the ID ‘chips’ commonly implanted in pets – are now sophisticated enough to suffer regular computer problems. As he said in a news release:

They are essentially mini computers. This means that, like mainstream computers, they can be infected by viruses and the technology will need to keep pace with this so that implants, including medical devices, can be safely used in the future.


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