Scientists Have Successfully Hacked the Human Brain to Retrieve Data
Technology Articles 9/23/12
By: David Martinez
It sounds like something out of the movie â€œJohnny Mnemonic,â€ but scientists have successfully been able to â€œhackâ€ a brain with a device thatâ€™s easily available on the open market.
Researchers from the University of California and University of Oxford in Geneva figured out a way to pluck sensitive information from a personâ€™s head, such as PIN numbers and bank information.
The scientists took an off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, a device that costs around $299, which allows users to interact with their computers by thought.
The scientists then sat their subjects in front of a computer screen and showed them images of banks, people, and PIN numbers. They then tracked the readings coming off of the brain, specifically the P300 signal.
The P300 signal is typically given off when a person recognizes something meaningful, such as someone or something they interact with on a regular basis.
Scientists that conducted the experiment found they could reduce the randomness of the images by 15 to 40 percent, giving them a better chance of guessing the correct answer.
Another interesting facet about the experiments is how the P300 signal could be read for lie detection.
In the paper that the scientists released, they state that â€œthe P300 can be used as a discriminative feature in detecting whether or not the relevant information is stored in the subjectâ€™s memory.
â€œFor this reason, a GKT based on the P300 has a promising use within interrogation protocols that enable detection of potential criminal details held by the suspect,â€ the researchers said.
However, scientists say this way of lie detection is â€œvulnerable to specific countermeasures,â€ but not as many compared to a traditional lie detector.
This could only be the beginning of a new form of fraud. Scientists say that a person with their guard lowered could be â€œeasily engaged into â€˜mind gamesâ€™ that camouflage the interrogation of the user and make them more cooperative.â€
Also, much like other household electronics, â€œthe ever increasing quality of devices, success rates of attacks will likely improve.â€
Source: Seattle CBS