While a student at Yale, Cole Porter wrote over 300 songs, including the famous Yale fight song Bulldog!Bulldog! ,which Yalies young and old bark out whenever the Yale football team scores. Legend has it Cole Porter wrote the song to commemorate Handsome Dan, the first Yale bulldog mascot. It is the world’s good fortune that Porter’s musical contributions did not peak with Bulldog! Bulldog!. During his illustrious career he authored such hit songs as Night and Day, Anything Goes, I Get a Kick Out of You, In the Still of the Night, and, of course, I’ve Got You Under My Skin.

I’m reminded of this last song by an article I just read (Cyborgs at work: Employees getting implanted with microchips) that looks at a Swedish company that offers to implant its workers with microchips the size of grains of rice that “function as swipe cards to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.” How does it work?  The microchips use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the same technology used in contactless credit cards or mobile payments. When activated by a reader a few inches away, a small amount of data flows between the two devices via electromagnetic waves, opening the door (literally as well as figuratively) to a number of possibilities.

It turns out these microchip implants have been around for a couple of decades, and for the moment, serve modest purposes. The way most people have come into contact with the concept is through the microchips that have been implanted in pets. But the spillover to humans is gathering steam. A company called Dangerous Things sells the microchips and an injection kit. As if to help support the company’s brand concept, the chips are not injected in doctors’ offices, but rather in tattoo parlors and piercing shops.

Early adapters of the insertable microchip see the risks as minimal, particularly because of the limited transmission range, and many think the future of the technology is rife with possibility.  Of course, those possibilities could include privacy loss and identify theft, and perhaps far more nefarious cyber crimes. This generation of microchips will yield to the next gen, and where the process stops, well, as Porter lyricized, “I’ve got you deep in the heart of me. So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me.”

By Tom Davis, SDI Cyber Risk Practice

April 4, 2017