With our IVR systems, there aren’t a lot of security risks. It’s not like an IVR program can convince you to give up your social security information. BCIs, however, can coerce you into giving up a little bit more than you’d like.
According to Extreme Tech, a joint research project between the Universities of Oxford, Geneva and California (Berkeley) created a program designed entirely to find out your sensitive information (like your home address, bank account pin number or other vital stats).
The program flashes up photos of maps, banks and card PINs onscreen and makes a note every time your brain has a certain reaction (a P300) to help guess where you live and bank.
Though the software isn’t 100% perfect, it does raise your chance of success at guessing someone’s password from 10% (if you were just randomly guessing) to 40%, a significant increase.
From Extreme Tech:
Really, your only defense is to not think about the topic — but if you’re proactively on the defensive, then the hacker has already messed up. The only viable solution that I can think of is to ensure that you don’t use your brain-computer interface with shady software, brain malware — but then again, in a science-fictional future, isn’t it almost guaranteed that the government would mandate the inclusion of brain-hacking software in the operating system itself?
Sinister government operations aside, they make a valid point.
Unlike IVR software (where you’re totally aware of what you’re saying and probably why), hackers could use this software to subtly extract information while you’re doing other things and not aware that you’re being monitored, especially as this software becomes more and more common.
Before we all go running out to make our tin foil hats, though, it’s important to remember that new technology has always faced security threats and somehow developers have always come up with ways to safeguard against it.
Just like how we’ve found ways to keep hackers from accessing our stored passwords and internet activity online, and how we’ve protected our IVR systems against database hacks, I’m sure that the minds behind this program will eventually come up with a way to prevent it from breaking into your mind.
So while these findings are kind of scary, unless you’re a regular user of a BCI system right now, you’ve got nothing to fear.