The device is a standard RFID tag of the type used in pets. Such chips use ambient electromagnetic energy to transmit small amounts of data. In the case of a pet the data is just a code which corresponds to the pet's ID.
In the presence of a vulnerability in the reading software, the tag can transmit malicious code as well. This has been demonstrated in the past as have other abuses of RFID. All that's really new here is that he put the chip under his skin. Since it works in cats and dogs, it's reasonable to assume it would work in humans.
I'm not sure what Gasson accomplished, other than to get himself in the BBC (and now pcmag.com). Anything accomplished with this chip can be done with a non-implanted chip that a person puts in their pocket or hides in their jewelry or eyeglasses. Gasson mentions that chips such as these are used in medical alert bracelets. Implantation is a cheap trick. And it's not like implanting it should be an effective way to hide it from a search. The right way to search for such devices is to search for the signal, not the chip.
As Gasson mentions, electronic device implantation is a growing field with pacemakers and cochlear implants as current examples. But all he has showed is that the devices which read wireless signals need to be hardened against attack, and that's hardly news.
Originally posted to the PCMag.com security blog, Security Watch.
"Man Implants Computer Virus in Hand." PC Magazine Online 27 May 2010. Computer Database. Web. 2 June 2010.
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