Could Hackers Create Spyware To Steal Passwords From Your Brain?

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Aug. 28 2012 3:30 PM

Could Hackers Create Spyware To Steal Passwords From Your Brain?

Just in case you felt there weren’t enough ways for people to try and steal your passwords and online identity, researchers have imagined security breaches through theoretical brain-hacking.

It’s not that far-fetched, either. An increasing number of so-called EEG devices that record electrical activity along the scalp are becoming available for computing, allowing users to interact with computers with the help of their own brainwaves. And scientists at the Universities of Oxford and Geneva are looking into whether a “brain spyware” app could be developed for EEG devices that might steal your passwords and pins.

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The researchers focused on the P300 signal, which is usually emitted when you recognize something with meaning. By monitoring the signal while EEG-wearing test subjects looked at ATM numbers and bank cards, researchers trying to extract the numbers with software could reduce the program’s random guessing by 15 to 40 percent.  That’s a long way from hackers knowing your grocery list—but it’s a step closer to them cracking into your head. Perish the thought!

Video by Krishnan Vasuvedan.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.