Monday, 20 August 2012

Brain Hacking

In the near future it will be possible to extract sensitive information with help of a brain-hacking software.
It doesn't really matter if you want to share the information or not, this software will force you against your will. Your thoughts will no longer be just yours.
At the Usenix Security conference scientists demonstrated it is actually possible to hack into your brain and force you to reveal information you are unwilling to share with the rest of the world.
Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are becoming cheaper and more extensively used. BCIs are very popular and often applied in the gaming and entertainment industries. According to the research paper On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces: "Brain-Computer Interfaces enable a nonmuscular communication between a user and an external device by measuring the brain's activities. In the last decades, BCIs have been primarily applied in the medical domain with the goal to increase the quality of life of patients with severe neuromuscular disorders."
            A brain-computer interface consists of both hardware and software. Commercial BCIs have an API, an interface that allows developers to use the BCI's output in their own programs.
Security researchers from the from the Universities of Oxford and Geneva, and the University of California, Berkeley successfully created a software that was especially designed to search for sensitive data, such as the location of your home, your debit card PIN, which bank you use, and your date of birth.
The program was tested on 28 participants who were cooperative and had no idea that that they were being brain-hacked.
The experiments had a 10 to 40% chance of success of obtaining useful information
Using what is commonly known as a P300 response, a very specific brainwave pattern scientists can create a software that flashes up pictures of maps, banks, and card PINs, and makes a note every time your brain experiences a P300.
Afterwards, it is easy to pore through the data and find out, with fairly good accuracy where a person has a bank account, where they live, and get other sensitive information.
For the time being this device is still in the realm of science fiction, but the technology is developed and in the near future this kind of brain-hacking software will become available.
This mind-controlling technology will undoubtedly cause controversy. Many will wonder who should be authorized to use brain-hacking software and for what reason? Should the police be allowed to use it on a suspect in order to prevent or solve crimes? What about a person's privacy rights? What will happen to the brain if the brain-scanning software contains malware? There are many unanswered questions.
Needless to say that this kind of technology is controversial and creates a debate.