Scientists Successfully ‘Hack’ Brain To Obtain Private Data


brainIt sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but scientists have successfully been able to “hack” a brain with a device that’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 person’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 “the P300 can be used as a discriminative feature in detecting whether or not the relevant information is stored in the subject’s memory.

“For 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,” the researchers said.

However, scientists say this way of lie detection is “vulnerable to specific countermeasures,” 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 “easily engaged into ‘mind games’ that camouflage the interrogation of the user and make them more cooperative.”

Also, much like other household electronics, “the ever increasing quality of devices, success rates of attacks will likely improve.”


{ Newscenter}


  1. There is something called SCIENCE, which is Hakodosh Boruch Hu”s way of guiding the creation with His infinite wisdom. Hope that makes you a little less confused.

  2. Researchers from the University of California and University of Oxford in Geneva

    How can the “University of Oxford” be “in Geneva”?

    I live in Oxford and study at one of the constituent colleges of the University. When I looked out of the window this morning I saw that the University was still here!

  3. Not to be prude of course, but I think that a human pathological specimen does not belong on a news site, especially one that regards halacha and jewish law and ethics. I mean, we know its a brain, but I can not help feeling a little troubled each time I see the specimen on your site.

  4. dear confused, these headsets (headsets! literally!) are very popular among the videogame enthusiasts. They are pretty good, but since I don’t game, it sounds stupid for me to spend 300$ in order to be able to click without moving my hands. They are popular among gamers because they allow superfast reactions, well below our motory response time.
    Which brings us to the reason they were developed in the first place: for combat soldiers, especially in aerial battle.
    It’s not my place to say it’s good or bad, but that’s a technology which is far from state-of-the-art, to the point it is used for entertainment. I shudder at the thought of the current equipment of the military of advanced countries.

  5. @Anonymous 4: there is no prohibition on doing pathology investigation on nonjewish deceased people. Their wishes are respected and some of them actually request it in their will. But in our days it is unusual to do that for non-pathological research and I’d be surprised if any actual brain from deceased patients had been used in this specific research. Likely, though, some patients undergoing brain surgery may have collaborated (volunteered).

    @3,6: there was a mistype, researchers are from Oxford, Berkeley, Geneva.

  6. To summarize the research paper:
    – there is a significant number of users of those headsets (although, if I may add, not so many among matzav readers)
    – we might imagine malicious attacks targeting such users and their brain electrical activity computer interface
    – indeed it was shown that the likelyhood of identity theft, grabbing credit card numbers etc. is increased.


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