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Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Science, Technology |

Researchers show vulnerabilities in systems based on brain waves

Researchers show vulnerabilities in systems based on brain waves

On more than one occasion we spent a few minutes talking about Research projects related to the processing of brain waves to control systems (vehicles, wheelchairs, etc.), develop new communication systems or detect a driver fatigue ; examples we show that we can take advantage of the brain’s electrical activity as input to different systems and use these signals to control them. However, research by the Universities of Berkeley, Oxford and Geneva seems to show a disturbing dark side to this type of interfaces because after multiple tests, the team has been able to figure out the credit card PIN participating subjects, data personal as date of birth or even geographical areas in which they lived.

And how could find all this information? The truth is that the experiment is quite curious and certainly, perhaps shows that devices based on electrical brain activity requiring a special emphasis on safety (or may be too early to use them, who knows).

The research team underwent a group of 30 people to an experiment in which they had to carry a device capable of detecting electrical signals from the brain (and a few others are already on sale with which even can try to control the character in a game for mobile devices) while wearing their device, the computer screen showed them a picture of ATMs, credit cards, maps, people and even random numbers. The result?

We managed to find the first digit of the PIN credit card in 20% of cases showing images of credit cards, people and the ATM. The location is guessed in 30% of cases, birth month and in 60% of the bank who were clients (using photos of ATMs) in almost 30% of cases

And how was it possible to find out the PIN credit card from someone? How can find out what he’s thinking? Basically, the team analyzed the brain’s response of subjects to the stimuli were presented (the succession of images) and, of course, was aimed at encouraging them to think in very concrete ways. In the case of PIN credit card, researchers showed (so pseudorandom) 10 sequence numbers (0 to 9) which is repeated 16 times at an interval of 90 seconds and in 20% of cases , signal variations were detected when viewing the screen of your PIN number.

The risk appears when you’re thinking about a particular event and an attacker takes the opportunity to get some kind of information that the victim has stored in his mind

The research wants to give a warning now that these devices are becoming so popular because, in the case of commercial devices compatible applications have full access to the signal recorded by the EEG and, therefore, could access to perhaps more than they should. In fact, to prove this possibility, the team developed a “malicious application” that during the calibration process, was able to attempt to obtain user information by presenting a seemingly insignificant fit testing.

A study Curiously enough, of course, should be the basis for improving such systems are now becoming more mainstream projects using these technologies.

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