Bio-Hacking? It’s Here To Stay, Says Kaspersky Labs

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Security firm teams up with Swedish implant firm, but CEO Eugene Kaspersky is not a fan

Wannabe cyborgs received a boost today following the news that implants allowing us to ‘upgrade’ our bodies now have a major new backer.

Security firm Kaspersky Labs has announced it will be partnering with Swedish firm BioNyfiken to “uncover the realities of connecting our bodies to the Internet” – in other words, making sure connecting our bodies to the internet doesn’t pose a major security risk.

The partnership follows several cases of people implanting NFC or RFID chips under their skin in order to speed up payments or access, but there are fears such procedures may pose a significant security risk – which is where Kaspersky’s expertise comes in.

arm biometric implantConnected

BioNyfiken, which describes itself as a ‘bio-hacking community’, is looking to lead the efforts towards normalising technological implants, believing that having a smart sub-dermal implant is not so different from wearing an earring or having a tattoo, and that an increasing number of people will choose to have NFC-compatible implants containing an array of information.

Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken, (which means ‘bio-curious in Swedish) said: “I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen.”

“Identification by touch is innately natural for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves, be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”

biometric handFact or fiction?

Under the deal, Kaspersky Labs will also be co-hosting events with the broader bio-hacking community in Sweden and across Europe, aiming to put security and privacy aspects on the agenda.

Patrick Mylund Nielsen, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab,  said “The trend within the Internet of Things has been to create products and get them to market fast. Security is often an afterthought, if it’s even a thought at all. And although bio-augmentation has been the topic of science fiction for as long as we can remember, not many stories dealt with its everyday implications: What happens when our private keys are under our skin? Can somebody become a virtual copy of me by shaking my hand? Who might be following me everywhere I go?”

However, not everyone at Kaspersky will be flocking to BioNyfiken to get an implant.

“Personally, I’d rather not be chipped,” said the company’s chairman and CEO Eugene Kaspersky. “I do, however, understand that technological progress cannot be hindered and there will be innovators who are ready to accept the risk and test the limits of technology by experimenting on their own bodies. I’d just rather they did this with their eyes open and with security at the forefront of their minds, instead of as a retrofit after-thought, as so often occurs.”

“That’s why I’m pleased that BioNyfiken has chosen us to work with on investigating the security implications of connecting our bodies to the web. It might be that our researchers find no concerns, but if people are going to have NFC chips inside them, I’d want to be sure that the experts had thoroughly investigated all the ramifications”.

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