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Our Brains Will Be Hacked, Tracked and Data-Mined

Discussion in 'Computer & Technology' started by slowmo, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. slowmo

    slowmo Well-Known Member

    Our Brains Will Be Hacked, Tracked and Data-Mined

    In the near future, companies, hell even the NSA could be mining our brainwaves for data. It’s bad enough that private details about our lives revealed in hoovered up in emails and phone calls; imagine if Big Brother was literally reading our minds? That’s some dystopian shit.

    We're heading in that direction. Brainwave-tracking is becoming increasingly common in the consumer market, with the gaming industry at the forefront of the trend. “Neurogames” use brain-computer interfaces and electroencephalographic (EEG) gadgets like the Emotiv headset to read brain signals and map them to in-game actions, basically giving the player virtual psychic superpowers.

    Now there’s a fear that we’re not doing enough to protect our raw thoughts from being hacked with "brain spyware" or tracked and gathered like the rest of our personal data. The concern was raised last month at the 2014 Neurogaming Conference in San Francisco, NPR reported.

    “We may wake up in a few years and say, ‘Oh, we should have done something. We should have thought about the privacy of this data,’” Arek Stopczynski, a neuroinformatics researcher at MIT told me in an interview.

    EEG data is extremely rich, or “high-dimensional,” meaning a single signal can reveal a lot of information about you: if you have a mental illness, are prone to addiction, your emotions, mood, and taste.

    Raw brainwave data uploaded to a server for the gaming purposes could also be tapped to get a detailed read-out of your psyche. It’s possible to glean private information like PIN numbers, credit cards, addresses, and birthdays "leaked" from brain signals, as researchers demonstrated in a 2013 paper on the privacy and security implications of brain-controlled consumer products.

    And unlike your Facebook profile, EGG data is a unique biometric identifier, like a fingerprint. Researchers have demonstrated they can identify people based on their EEG data with an 80-100 percent accuracy rate.

    The greatest potential danger when it comes to brainwave data privacy, Stopczynski argued, is the possibility of linking EEG databases to other databases with information about finances or location. “If we don’t do something about it or start talking about it, we will end up with this big dataset of personal EEG data that no one will have proper control over,” he said.

    If, let’s just say the NSA, began collecting brain data, they could theoretically match it with other datasets culled from online data mining to create a complete profile of an individual that goes far beyond what they divulge through posts and messages alone.

    How can we stop this kind of invasive mining of our minds? The simple answer is that brainwaves can be protected just like any other personal data.

    In a recent paper, Stopczynski and several colleagues outlined a security protocol for EEG data, called openPDS. The system marries two technologies: a smartphone app that reads EEG data and a generic data storage system that only releases the answers to specific queries “asked” by programs and services—not the raw data itself.

    So before firing up a neurogame, the user would first have to install a company-provided module that would only be able to calculate specific parts of the data emitted by an EEG headset to generate code that translates into in-game actions.

    The goal is to prevent our brain data from disseminated through cyberspace without our knowledge or say-so, the way personal information from the web is now. Data security experts wants to make sure consumers retain total control over where their brainwaves go, and whose hands they end up in.

    By ensuring that the raw EEG data is never released to another party, Stopczynski’s system would offer users control over their own neurodata. “Eventually, you should own the only copy of your raw data,” he said, “You should not have your data, especially your biometric data, duplicated multiple places.”

    Folks may have a cavalier attitude toward online privacy, even a willingness to exchange personal data an all-access pass to the digital world. But I’m inclined to think that our brains are different.

    Before neurogaming gives way to other brain-controlled services and products, we might want to make sure that won’t mean giving corporate giants and government snoops unfettered access to our private thoughts. Facebook and the NSA don’t have carte blanche access to our minds just yet, and we should probably keep it that way.

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    Man this is something to really think about. I mean do you really want your thoughts and everything that happens in your life exposed for datamining? Whatever is on your mind exposed for what ever purpose someone deems interesting?

    Now stopping ID theft this way would be harder but can be done. They'd have to turn to something like biometeric data to be the replacement pin rather than some secret number.

    The issue I would have with this is the same one I have today with all your info given out now. Wherever there is a database that could be valuable there is a hacker attempting to get it.

    Look what happened last year during Christmas shopping season with Target. A memory reader was put in the system to read data off credit cards before it was encrypted, resulting in hundreds of thousands of credit card info exposed for the taking.

    The data coming from brainwaves isn't encrypted and isn't designed to work that way. Anyone being able to obtain that data would pretty much know everything about you over time.

    One of the big issues with security in programs is you can't add it on after the fact and be efficient at it. Programs have to be designed from the ground up with that security in mind in order for it to be reasonably successful.

    Something that keeps being covered up in this very topic is the Obamacare health records. The federal database for this was a disaster in kickoff. What no one is wanting to talk about in it is that security was never a consideration while building the software. Bad enough it didn't work as billed but worse here is this huge database with pretty much everything about you health-wise and identity wise without reasonable security. I keep waiting for the day when I hear it's all been hacked an collected. It is an example of where ignoring security goes.

    No one is thinking about security for brainwave reading devices and you can be sure this is one place the corporate mentality of wanting to tabulate and count every iota of data will want to be.

    I don't know about you but I am not comfortable with this idea at all. This would be one heck of a price to pay in the form of privacy for game playing.

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