Mark Gasson, senior research fellow at the University of Reading, was able to infect a tiny, radio frequency identification (RFID) chip with a virus before he placed it under the skin on his hand. He uses that chip to activate his cell phone, as well as open secure doors.
Thanks to the computer chip, his cell phone knows when he’s using it, and when someone else is trying to operate the device. If someone else tries to use his phone (after, say, stealing it), that person is not able to use it. Only Gasson can.
And instead of him swiping an ID card to enter his building, he just needs to wave his hand to gain entrance. The convenience of not taking out his ID and the safety of his phone come with a price, however.
He served as carrier, and was able to pass the virus on to an external computer. The virus was of Gasson’s own design and was not malicious. But he was able to show that computer viruses can move seamlessly between computers within and outside the body. And theoretically, if a person had several computers in his or her body, a computer virus could spread from one to another, infecting them all.
Why would people have computers in their bodies? Researchers around the world are developing tiny electronics that can be ingested or embedded in people for health or even security reasons. Consider the camera pill, which records data from the intestines, bionic eyes, bionic limbs, implantable telescopes to improve vision, and more.
The kind of computer chip that Gasson installed in his body is not in wide use, so no need to worry as of yet. In fact, you have more reason to worry about bed bugs than computer bugs. But in the future, computers will get under our skin, and people will have to take precautions to spread digital infections.