Downtime

Aug 20 2012   10:15AM GMT

Nowhere is safe from hackers – not even your brain

Bryan Glick Bryan Glick Profile: Bryan Glick

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ExtremeTech

This may sound like something dreamed up by a feverish sub-editor at sensationalist news organisation, but the headline “My brain was hacked” is not as far away as it seems.

According to website Extreme Tech, researchers (who clearly are going to be the next group in society to be ostracised) have shown how it is possible to use a “commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface” (Ed: A what? Can you get a “value” version from Tesco?) to discover your innermost secrets.

Those pesky security boffins – including some from our very own Oxford University (and we’d just like to point out that’s where half the Cabinet studied) achieved as much as a 40% success rate among a group of willing volunteers. The “hack” works by measuring the brain’s response to images flashed before your eyes, from which the researchers can determine things like your home location, date of birth, and even your credit card PIN. The idea is basically that by showing someone their PIN number, the computer can tell that their braim recognises it as their own.

Downtime recalls at least one episode of Dr Who where humanity was subjugated by some evil force through the wearing of brain-tapping headsets. So when a group of harmless-looking scientists in white coats ask you to try on this great new headset (or great new pair of computerised spectacles even), either say no and run away screaming, or your thoughts will never again be your own.

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