Friday, August 5, 2016

Oh Great, Now Our Brains Can Get Hacked

I knew this was going to happen. Knew it. Afraid to say it, sound like crazy person, but knew it. Links below.

From the Motherboard:

How Hackers Could Get Inside Your Head With 'Brain Malware'
Hackers have spyware in your mind. You’re minding your business, playing a game or scrolling through social media, and all the while they’re gathering your most private information direct from your brain signals. Your likes and dislikes. Your political preferences. Your sexuality. Your PIN.
It’s a futuristic scenario, but not that futuristic. The idea of securing our thoughts is a real concern with the introduction of brain-computer interfaces—devices that are controlled by brain signals such as EEG (electroencephalography), and which are already used in medical scenarios and, increasingly, in non-medical applications such as gaming.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle say that we need to act fast to implement a privacy and security framework to prevent our brain signals from being used against us before the technology really takes off.

“There’s actually very little time,” said electrical engineer Howard Chizeck over Skype. “If we don’t address this quickly, it’ll be too late.”

I first met Chizeck and fellow engineer Tamara Bonaci when I visited the University of Washington Biorobotics Lab to check out their work on hacking teleoperated surgical robots. While I was there, they showed me some other hacking research they were working on, including how they could use a brain-computer interface (BCI), coupled with subliminal messaging in a videogame, to extract private information about an individual.

Bonaci showed me how it would work. She placed a BCI on my head—which looked like a shower cap covered in electrodes—and sat me in front of a computer to play Flappy Whale, a simple platform game based on the addictive Flappy Bird. All I had to do was guide a flopping blue whale through the on-screen course using the keyboard arrow keys. But as I happily played, trying to increase my dismal top score, something unusual happened. The logos for American banks started appearing: Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo—each flickering in the top-right of the screen for just milliseconds before disappearing again. Blink and you’d miss them.

The idea is simple: Hackers could insert images like these into a dodgy game or app and record your brain’s unintentional response to them through the BCI, perhaps gaining insight into which brands you’re familiar with—in this case, say, which bank you bank with—or which images you have a strong reaction to.

Bonaci’s team have several different Flappy Whale demos, also using logos from local coffee houses and fast food chains, for instance. You might not care who knows your weak spot for Kentucky Fried Chicken, but you can see where it’s going: Imagine if these “subliminal” images showed politicians, or religious icons, or sexual images of men and women. Personal information gleaned this way could potentially be used for embarrassment, coercion, or manipulation.

“Broadly speaking, the problem with brain-computer interfaces is that, with most of the devices these days, when you’re picking up electric signals to control an application… the application is not only getting access to the useful piece of EEG needed to control that app; it’s also getting access to the whole EEG,” explained Bonaci. “And that whole EEG signal contains rich information about us as persons.”...MORE
See also:
Where In the World Is Izabella Kaminska?--"Scientist Hacks Into Another Scientist's Mind"
Here's The Most Advanced Human Brain-to-Brain Interface
Monkey Steers Wheelchair With It's Little Monkey Mind
July 2015
Mind-Meld: Neuroscientists Link Three Monkey Brains Into Living Computer
March 8, 2015
Apr. 23, 2014