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Security Biotech

Hackers' Next Target — Your Brain? 295

Hugh Pickens writes "Wired reports that as neural devices become more complicated — and go wireless — some scientists say the risks of 'brain hacking' should be taken seriously. '"Neural devices are innovating at an extremely rapid rate and hold tremendous promise for the future," said computer security expert Tadayoshi Kohno of the University of Washington. "But if we don't start paying attention to security, we're worried that we might find ourselves in five or 10 years saying we've made a big mistake."' For example, the next generation of implantable devices to control prosthetic limbs will likely include wireless controls that allow physicians to remotely adjust settings on the machine. If neural engineers don't build in security features such as encryption and access control, an attacker could hijack the device and take over the robotic limb." Relatedly, several users have written to tell us that science may be closer to the science fiction "mind wipe" than previously thought. Put this all together and I welcome the next step in social networking; letting the cloud drive my limbs around town via a live webcam and then wiping the memory from my brain. Who has parked and is willing to deal?
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Hackers' Next Target — Your Brain?

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  • Encryption (Score:5, Funny)

    by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:29PM (#28682095) Journal
    Go insane. It's the new encryption.
  • Goddamned, the unintended consequence of techonological evolution is that it makes every conspiracy theory ultimately more likely to do in the future.

    • Future? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by raehl ( 609729 )

      Your brain has been hacked since birth. It's called "Marketing". Tons and tons of exploits in the wild, including appeals to Emotion, Manipulation of Statistics, Lying to the Gullible, Threats Against Afterlife, Us or Them, etc, etc. Unfortunately, although a security suite is supposed to be installed during adolescence, too many are ineffective copies of Public Education or have installation prevented by previous installations of Sunday School and Parental Brainwashing.

      • How ironic... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tjstork ( 137384 )

        It is that ... by silently critiquing religion, you've fallen into your own self defined trap of "US or them"..

        And, we might also note, that "threats against the afterlife" is essentially interchangable with "saving the planet"

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:29PM (#28682107)

    If it means that in the future our government will employ cyber-babes in ridiculous fuck-me outfits to fight crime.

    (Still finding it ridiculous that the Major was essentially wearing a one-piece bathing suit and leather jacket as her uniform in the GITS tv series.)

    • "Still finding it ridiculous that the Major was essentially wearing a one-piece bathing suit and leather jacket as her uniform in the GITS tv series."

      But we're talking about fantasy here and money, the outfit was to draw attention and $$$. Anything to get the biggest audience possible. Doing a movie/story for ones art and vision is not appreciated by everybody and therein lies the rub.

    • She was almost 100% artificial. Would clothing really have given her any advantage? When she needs more armor, she tends to put it on. But it's been a while since I've watched those episodes.
    • Just be glad she didn't have cat ears and a ridiculously large bell around her neck. It's Japanese-- you get what you can take!

    • Her uniform was significantly less, if she wanted to be invisible.
  • If everyone could hack into any person's brain and have sex with whoever they want, then what kind of society would that be like? On one hand, some super hot chicks are going to be pretty busy, but on the other hand, you would be reprogrammed periodically to think that bigfoot was hot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      on the other hand, you would be reprogrammed periodically to think that bigfoot was hot.

      Of course bigfoot is hot - have you ever been inside out of those costumes?

  • Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:40PM (#28682237)

    The big worry is not hacking, after all I am sure that there will be plenty of security software you can download, but rather the effects of spam.

    • Re:Spam (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:45PM (#28682307)

      I think this was put in as colour in one of Neal Stephenson's novels (I think it was the Diamond Age) ; aha

      Bud knew a guy like that who'd somehow gotten infected with a meme that ran advertisements for roach motels, in Hindi, superimposed on the bottom right-hand corner of his visual field, twenty-four hours a day, until the guy whacked himself.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:41PM (#28682253) attacker could hijack the device and take over the robotic limb."

    Who else has a clear mental picture of Dr. Strangelove being choked by his own (gloved) hand?

  • by tchuladdiass ( 174342 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:46PM (#28682313) Homepage

    Someone at work mentioned to me recently that it will be a scary day when someone can program your brain. Well I've already seen it happen. My local Walmart is in sort of a high-risk part of town, so the "greeters" will ask to see your receipt if you have any bulk items in your cart that aren't in bags. So people get used to having their receipt handy when they walk out the door. Now yesterday it was kind of busy, and one greeter to check receipts. Guess what I saw? A line of about 10 people waiting to show their receipt before leaving the store. Meanwhile I push my cart right around them (I've already waited in line for 25 minutes just to pay, I'm not going to wait again to leave the store). It appears that those in line were robots that have been programmed (conditioned) so much that they couldn't think of leaving without waiting to show their receipt. Keep in mind that there is not sign saying you have to show your receipt.

    • by mevets ( 322601 )

      That people volunteer to shop at Walmart is sufficient evidence of programming. Every time I go to a {Walmart, Best Buy, ...} I have a feeling that I'm the butt of a joke to see how much dignity you will resign for a couple of bucks. Kind of like a reality version of The Price Is Right in your own neighbourhood. Maybe I took too much acid.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 )

        And of course, the concept of dignity is likely the result of some programming.

    • by Renraku ( 518261 )

      Much like how gas prices of over $2/gallon are just fine now, because we went to $4+ a gallon for a short time.

      Every time someone complains about gas prices now, everyone says, "At least it's not $4+ a gallon again!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They're not robots. They're exercising free will to make a choice you disagree with. They see it as an element of manners to show that they're not stealing, and for some reason they care about how they look to that greeter despite knowing they're not thieves. Let them get on with it without the name-calling.

  • Jokes in Summaries (Score:2, Informative)

    by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 )

    Who has parked and is willing to deal?

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Am I the only person who notices that every single summary submitter tries to show off his nonexistent ability to be funny? This doesn't help the summary and every time I read a stupid joke in the summary like that, I have a mental facepalm. They make me feel embarrassed for the thread submitter, and it hurts; kind of like watching a really bad performance at a talent show.

    Seriously, if you submit a thread, don't put a joke in it, because chances are your joke sucks and i

  • Oh come on, am I the first pathetic anime geek to mention Ghost in the Shell?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )

      Everybody else thought the reference was too obvious, and didn't want to be the dork thinking he was being all clever by posting it.

  • by Temujin_12 ( 832986 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:49PM (#28682367)

    Which is why if/when direct brain IO is developed, you won't find me anywhere near it, unless I am in a situation where it is the only option to restore normal faculties (ie: injury or illness). Currently, when a power surge or an attack occurs against my device/computer the damage maxes out at the value of the device (assuming I'm backing up data). If a power surge or an attack occurs via a direct link hooked up to my brain, the damage is total.

    That said, the article is still relevant because neuro-tech has great potential to increase the quality and length of life in ways currently not possible. As always, it's important to stop and think about the short/long term consequences of actions (novel thought).

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:52PM (#28682407)

    Realistically, how hard would it be to include an OFF switch on the external interface used for doctor diagnostics?

    I mean, for pete sake people, what possible gain would there be in trying to break into a mechanical leg?

    Can you take any part of that to the bank? There is no money to follow. There is no information to gain.

    Do you see anyone hacking your IP Oven, or you IP Coffee maker? []

    How does an interface to a prosthetic limb somehow suggest a "mine whipe". Does my pedicure predict a lobotomy?

    Come on, people. There is some fool snickering somewhere that the drunken brainstorm he posted somewhere has actually morphed into a story on Slashdot.

  • Better get in practice... start a shudder club today!

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:55PM (#28682439)
    They've found through extensive research that a bullet to the back of the head affects a very thorough mind wipe.
    • effects (Score:2, Funny)

      by davidwr ( 791652 )

      there, fixed that for you.

      Well, it probably affects a previously-done thorough mind wipe too but I don't think that's what you meant.

  • really? Are people this bored from being unemployed that they need to work on articles like this to pass the time. I'm disappointed with a side of disgruntled.

  • I always wanted to do some "ghost-hacking" and "stealing someone's eyes" like they did in Ghost in the Shell SAC!
  • I point you to Idle Hands [] and what we can expect when people start hacking limbs.

    FYI- Some great shots of Jessica Alba...
  • It's not worth hacking.

    We talk a lot here about how Windows gets hacked more than Linux or Mac because it has a higher market share.

    What's the market share on a prosthetic limb?

    By the way, the style sheets are totally fucked up on IE6. Some of us aren't running nightly Firefox builds, morons. Try testing your code on various paltforms.

    What? It's a managed work computer. It is what it is.

    No, USB devices aren't permitted either, so Portable Firefox is out.

    • Beardo, I'm truly sorry that your workplace forces you to run IE6. But at some point that has to be their problem instead of everyone else's. Eventually they are going to have to migrate or deal with the fact that many web sites won't load for them.

      If any site should be able to drop IE6 support, it's Slashdot.

  • I'm not using more than 90% of it anyway. So maybe someone can make good use of the rest.
  • Thia week on sci-fi brain hacks.

    This sounds like something out of a b-movie and it seems like stuff like this has been done / done in parts in many b movies.

  • I'm tracking other movements in the tunnel. LOCK AND LOAD!
  • Brain hacking has been around for a long time. Its primary vector is language.

    Marketing, peer pressure, memes, prophecies, and rumors are all brain hacking.

    It's just not a direct connection, but given how badly so many things have turned out at the hands of a large informed group, it looks like it succeeds most of the time.

    There is only one solution: learn philosophy and critical thinking.

  • If they can find my other sock or when I put my car keys then they have something.

  • it's called advertising.

  • I'm pretty sure we can take care of the machines, but I really hope the immune system isn't watching.
  • I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. Ho ho ho.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:42PM (#28685693) Homepage

    But honey, it wasn't really me! Someone hacked into my brain and *MADE* me do that!

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker