A British scientist has become the first human to be infected with a computer virus.
Dr Mark Gasson, a cybernetics expert at the University of Reading, has had a computer chip implanted in his hand.
The chip is programmed to open security doors to his lab – and ensure only he is able to switch on and use his mobile phone…
But Dr Gasson deliberately infected the chip with a computer virus, which was then automatically transmitted to affect to the lab security system.
“Once the system is infected, anybody accessing the building with their passcard would be infected too,” he told Sky News.
The virus on his chip is benign. But malicious computer code could give criminals access to a building.
Dr Gasson says his experiment also exposes the vulnerability of chips now routinely implanted in patients.
Heart pacemakers contain mini-computers that control the heartbeat, and communicate with doctors via a special reader held against the skin.
But if a virus was transmitted to the device which stopped it working properly, the consequences for the patient could be fatal.
“The devices will have to start to use security encryption,” said Dr Gasson.
“Medical devices should have some kind of password protection as well. They’re basic security precautions. It’s surprising these devices don’t have them already.”