Friday, May 28, 2010

Our Cyberpunk World: Humans Infected by Computer Viruses!

One story currently causing a firestorm in Britain is the case of the computer scientist who infected himself with a computer virus. Dr. Mark Gasson of the University of Reading put an RFID (radio frequency identification) microchip into his wrist as a kind of lockout device so that only he can enter his lab and use his phone; since, as he explains, RFID technology has advanced to the point where the chips have become full-blown computers, they can now get infected by viruses. Gasson's chip is the first to be infected. But that's not all, unfortunately...

Gasson also proved that his infected chip can pass the virus on to any system, internal or external, that it connects to. Some cyberterrorist could even use RFID viruses to take control of entire corporate and national computer systems and either destroy them or hijack them in a computer-viral form of the hostile takeover. If microchips are implanted into brains, either for police surveillance or brain enhancement, computer viruses could even be used to hijack people and turn them zombies (in the original African magic-war sense) like the computers hijacked and controlled by botnets.

If there's any reason to stop our increasingly paranoid elites from forcibly microchipping us, this is it. But if you write cyberpunk science fiction or technothrillers — or if you're a malicious hacker or techno-guerrilla — you could run away with this idea. And so I'm going to make it a major plot element of Spanner.

Here's the original BBC interview of Dr. Mark Gasson:

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