Friday, May 28, 2010

First human ‘infected with computer virus’ - Another example of “spreading the fear”

Contributed by Neil Mitchell, RFIDSA Vice Chairperson

Another example of how RFID is “being connected” in negative technology reporting occurred this week from one of the respected news sources. The BBC reported on a University researcher who embedded himself with an RFID device that is used to open the doors in the university and enable his cell phone. However, the device was purposely embedded with a computer virus intended to infect other such similar implants. The fear factor is the potential spread of this computer virus between similar embedded devices in people (that happen to use RFID to communicate). Examples they have included Pace Makers and Deep Brain Stimulators that actually do not contain RFID readers. This fact was conveniently overlooked.

While a very valid topic (protecting human embedded devices from viruses), little attempt was made to distant the RFID technology as cause of the technology weakness. There are no cases of this “in the wild” today although this is a very valid topic that the RFID Security Alliance is also monitoring.

Fellow RFIDSA member and security consultant, Lukas Grunwald, pointed out that “This is the classical Riebeck scheme.” More information on RFID viruses can be found at Dr Melanie Rieback’s homepage: and

The BBC’s story is here:

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