Researchers Hack Minds to Reveal Personal Data

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Could mind hacking become common in the future? If several researchers’ analysis proves correct, we should probably prepare for the threat.

Earlier this month, faculty members from schools including the University of Oxford, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Geneva discussed the topic in a presentation titled “On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces.”

The matter was brought to light during the annual UNSENIX Security Symposium, this year held in Bellevue, Washington.

The researchers emphasized how brain computer interfaces are being used more than ever in the gaming world. To study the issue, they took things a step further, venturing into any area they said had never been studied before.

“We use inexpensive electroencephalography (EEG) based BCI devices to test the feasibility of simple, yet effective, attacks. The captured EEG signal could reveal the user’s private informa- tion about, e.g., bank cards, PIN numbers, area of living, the knowledge of the known persons,” commented the researchers via unsenix.org.

To showcase just how real the threat is, observers attached Emotiv headsets to 28 test subjects. Particpants then observed data while being asked particular relevant questions. The result? “We show that the entropy of the private information is decreased on the average by approximately 15 % – 40 % compared to random guessing attacks,” commented the researchers.

While it remains highly likely that any such threat is far off in the future, the problem it poses could one day become reality.

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