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Monday, August 20, 2012

Your Brain Can Now Be Hacked For Under $300 - WebProNews

Your Brain Can Now Be Hacked For Under $300

Cyberpunk and sci-fi films like the Matrix and Brainstorm play around with the idea of gaining access to the human mind. It’s easy to hack a computer, but most people always thought that hacking the human brain was impossible.

As it turns out, it’s entirely possible and really cheap to boot. Researchers at Usenix Security Conference have proven that it’s now possible to hack the human brain. What’s terrifying is that it doesn’t require any kind of expensive hardware or technical knowhow. In fact, you could hack somebody’s brain right now for a little under $300.

The researchers used a brain computer interface which are commonly used in research that scans brain patterns. The technology has been in use for many years now, but only recently did it come down drastically in price. The current models allow users to control their computers with their thoughts, but the researchers have proven that it goes both ways.


On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces


Ivan Martinovic, University of Oxford; Doug Davies, Mario Frank, and Daniele Perito, University of California, Berkeley; Tomas Ros, University of Geneva; Dawn Song, University of California, Berkeley

Brain computer interfaces (BCI) are becoming increasingly popular in the gaming and entertainment industries. Consumer-grade BCI devices are available for a few hundred dollars and are used in a variety of applications, such as video games, hands-free keyboards, or as an assistant in relaxation training. There are application stores similar to the ones used for smart phones, where application developers have access to an API to collect data from the BCI devices.

The security risks involved in using consumer-grade BCI devices have never been studied and the impact of malicious software with access to the device is unexplored.

Security '12 Home


How researchers hacked into Stephen Hawking's brain

Ted S. Warren / AP

To produce the words for text or speech, British physicist Stephen Hawking currently uses an infrared sensor mounted on his eyeglasses, visible here during an appearance this month in Seattle. The sensor picks up twitches from his cheek, which are translated into the desired letters or words. Hawking and neuroscientist Philip Low are experimenting with a system that can translate brain waves directly into text and speech.

By Alan Boyle

After months of tweaking, researchers are finally ready to show off a high-tech headband that can translate Stephen Hawking's brain waves into speech — providing what could eventually become an easier avenue for the paralyzed British physicist and many others to share their deep thoughts.

The system, developed by San Diego-based NeuroVigil and known as iBrain, uses a head-mounted receiver the size of a matchbox to pick up different types of brain waves. iBrain employs a computer algorithm called SPEARS to analyze the brain emanations and encode them for a text-based speech reader. Philip Low, NeuroVigil's founder, chairman and CEO, is to present the latest results from his work with Hawking on July 7 at a Cambridge conference on consciousness.

"I haven't discussed doing a demonstration with Stephen, but we could do that, of course," Low told me today. During the conference, Low will be showing video clips of Hawking using the iBrain to communicate.

For decades, Hawking has been coping with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease that has left the theoretical physicist confined to a wheelchair and unable to move even his fingers. To write or speak, he currently uses an infrared sensor system mounted on his eyeglasses: His cheek twitches are read by the sensor to control a wheelchair-mounted computer system that slowly encodes the patterns of those twitches. It can take a half-hour for Hawking to twitch out a couple of sentences in response to a question.


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