The Evolution of Biohacking: Are We Susceptible to Digital Threats?
The Evolution of Biohacking: Are We Susceptible to Digital Threats?

Image: Nahel Abdul Hadi (unsplash)

With advancements in biohacking, there’s a question of whether our bodies can be vulnerable to digital attacks. Entelgy suggests that while it’s possible to implant chips under the skin, these devices often lack secure technologies.

Even though biohacking has been in discussions for over a decade, the current state of implantable technologies remains in its infancy. Hence, potential digital attacks on these devices likely won’t have severe consequences. This contrasts with implantable medical devices where a breach could gravely affect a patient’s health. Nevertheless, the vision of humans transforming into cyborgs with the potential to harm one another via digital malware seems distant.

Highlighting the importance of implant technology security, Pablo Martínez from Entelgy Innotec Security, well-known as Fall in the tech community, urges caution. He believes biohacking hasn’t progressed as much as some assume. Our current knowledge is rudimentary, limiting the scope for malicious actors to exploit these technologies. Comparatively, our smartphones might be more susceptible than a rudimentary chip beneath the skin due to their multifunctionality and exposure.

Most non-medical implantable technologies are tiny devices enclosed in capsules and injected under the skin. These can indeed be vulnerable and potentially breached. However, Fall emphasizes that it’s the technology at risk, not the body. The focus should be on enhancing the security of the technologies we aim to integrate into our bodies.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a prevalent technology allowing devices to communicate through radio waves. Fall explains that its low-frequency nature can let attackers clone information from these chips. NFC (Short Range Communication), a more secure variant of RFID, is slowly gaining traction in applications like contactless payments.

However, implantable medical devices, essential for some patients, are of paramount concern. Older pacemakers, for example, once relied on obscure frequencies for security. This approach has become less effective over time. Vulnerabilities have been identified in newer devices like cardiac defibrillators, which can be remotely compromised.

Cyberattacks on medical infrastructures, as reported by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), can indirectly impact patients’ health. If a hospital’s digital systems are attacked, all connected medical devices—including those implanted in patients—are at risk. Alejandro Villar from Entelgy Innotec Security notes that outdated and unsupported medical software poses substantial risks.

Fall warns against the pitfalls of wireless communications, where security vulnerabilities can expand rapidly. He questions the necessity of embedding chips like RFID or NFC under the skin when external alternatives exist.

While visions of a future with humans and cyborgs coexisting captivate many tech enthusiasts, such a world seems distant. The hope is that when this future dawns, both individuals and organizations will be better equipped to handle the challenges, prioritizing digital safety.