Hacking humans with nanotechnology may sound like a concept from a futuristic science fiction novel or movie, but the truth is, it’s not that far off and it could be the next big cyberthreat. If you thought data breaches involving your social security number or credit card information were scary, imagine the ramifications nanotechnology hacking.
What is Nanotechnology & Hacking Humans with Nanotechnology?
Technically speaking, nanotechnology is any technological endeavor that deals with anything with a dimension of less than 100 nanometers. That is very small. For comparison, there are 25,400,000 nanometers in just one inch. Much of this scientific and technological field focuses on working with atoms. While the concept was first brought to light in the late 1950s, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that technology advanced enough to actually allow scientists to work in such a small field.
Nanotechnology has several applications. Food, technology, fuels, batteries, environmental causes, chemical sensors and even sporting goods have already benefited from nanotechnology, and will benefit even more in the future. However, the medical field is one of the most exciting for nanotechnology at the moment, though most developments are still in the experimental phase. With these developments comes the ever-present technological risk of hacking.
How is Nanotechnology Used in Humans?
In the future, nanotechnology will be used for incredible purposes. One possibility still being researched is building new muscle with carbon nanotubes. Scientists at IBM are also working on using nanotechnology to analyze DNA in just minutes (instead of weeks) to treat cancer patients with a customized treatment plan. Other medical technology experts are exploring using nanotechnology to send treatments like chemotherapy or vaccines to target specific types of cells in the body. Experimental nanosponges are being tested to absorb toxins in the body, and there are several different nanotechnology projects in experimental phases that seek to hyper target treatment to cancer cells. It is also being explored as an early diagnostic tool to detect cancers and infectious diseases long before our current technology is able. Some nanotechnology ideas include a tiny device that gets injected into the body as a sensor or medical delivery device. This all sounds positive, but there is a downside too.
Is Medical Technology Secure?
Now that we are entering a new era of medical nanotechnology, scientists need to make sure treatments are not only effective, but secure. Many experimental treatments are, after all, electronic medical devices, just on a smaller scale. These tiny devices are typically controlled by a program on a traditional electronic device like a computer, smartphone or server, meaning they could be very hackable. Some digital security experts posit that a single nanoparticle in the body with it’s own processor could be hacked, but they also say that if someone had more than one particle in the body, which many treatments would require, a hacker could theoretically turn them into a network in the body, using the body’s own systems to communicate and do their bidding.