Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

Guest Blog // Selected Security Content Provided By Sophos
What's This?
5/27/2010
05:34 AM
Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
Security Insights
50%
50%

If I Stick A USB Stick Up My Nose, Does That Mean I'm Virus-Infected?

A British scientist has claimed to be the first human to be "infected" by a computer virus.

A British scientist has claimed to be the first human to be "infected" by a computer virus.Dr. Mark Gasson, a senior research fellow working at Reading University's Cybernetic Intelligence Research Group, told the BBC he has infected himself with a computer virus after implanting an RFID chip into his hand.

That's the kind of device normally used to tag pets in case they get lost -- but at Reading University scientists are using them to open security doors, unlock their mobile phones and -- it appears -- spread viruses.

Dr. Gasson breathlessly told BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones that in the future pacemakers and other implants could be vulnerable to computer virus infection.

But hang on a minute. What's the real threat here?

First of all, it's irrelevant that Dr. Gasson implanted the RFID chip under his skin. It makes no difference to its ability to infect other devices. He could just as easily have put it in the lining of his jacket or chipped his Siamese cat.

Second, is the RFID chip really infectious? Well, no. Not really.

As I explain on my blog, the infection entirely relies on the external RFID reader containing a security vulnerability that would be exploited when it read the code from the RFID chip.

Aside from the problematic issues involved with how hackers would infect the RFID chips in the first place I think that's a pretty unlikely series of events.

This hasn't prevented the researchers in Reading from getting an enormous amount of coverage, of course -- most of which was completely unquestioning as to whether this was a real threat.

I really would hope for better from our scientists than this kind of scaremongering.

Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos, and has been working in the computer security field since the early 1990s. When he's not updating his award-winning other blog on the Sophos website, you can find him on Twitter at @gcluley. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.