FYI: Total Recall?

New headset can hack into human brains |
August 27, 2012

New headset can hack into human brains

     by: Claire Connelly
From: News Limited Network
August 24, 2012 3:07PM

Sinister use: the Emotiv BCI headset can be used to hack into a person’s brain. Source: Supplied

SCIENTISTS have discovered a way to hack the human brain using a headset that you can buy off the shelf.

The Emotiv BCI headset only costs US$299 ($184) and can be used to play video games, as a hands-free keyboard or to assist in relaxation training.

It has been used to assist mentally and physically disabled people operate a wheelchair and to communicate online.

The data from the devices are also used by app developers. But researchers from the Universities of Oxford, California and Geneva proved that the same technology can also be used to help in getting access to anything from what bank you use, to your credit card pin and your home address.

A group of computer science students participated in a study that they were told related to security. The students were equipped with the headset and were shown images of things such as banks, credit card numbers, bank pins and maps. The students were unaware that their brains were being hacked for information.

The researchers found they could track the students’ brain signals to work out personal information like where they lived and what bank they used.

The scientists were able to correctly guess the students’ pin numbers on the first guess in 20 per cent of cases, where they lived in 30 per cent of cases and birth months in 60 per cent of cases.

The scientists said the simplicity of the experiments suggested that the same information could be used for more sophisticated attacks.

“For example, an uninformed user could be easily engaged into ‘mindgames’ that camouflage the interrogation of the user and make them more co-operative,” the team wrote in the paper on the experiment which they presented at the Usenix Security Conference in Bellevue, Washington two weeks ago.

“Furthermore, with the ever increasing quality of devices, success rates of attacks will likely improve.”

The headsets are also designed to store the data acquired from people’s brain once the person is done using it. The researchers warned that hackers could gain access to your thoughts by installing malware in the headset’s software.

“The development of new attacks can be achieved with relative ease and is only limited by the attacker’s own creativity,” the scientists wrote.


Copyright 2012 News Limited. All times AEST (GMT +10:00).


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