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  • 08.05.16

Researchers might have found a way to protect our brains from hackers

“Wait, what?” is probably your first thought, but in actuality brain-computer interfaces are closer than we think, perhaps arriving as early as the next decade, reports TheNextWeb. And though this new interaction could do wonders for computing—allowing people to easily manipulate connected devices by just using their thoughts—it also means our brains could literally be susceptible to hackers since, for now at least, brain-computer interfaces access all the brain waves originating from your head, not just the ones they need. University of Washington Biorobotics Lab engineer Tamara Bonaci explains:

“Broadly speaking, the problem with brain-computer interfaces is that, with most of the devices these days, when you’re picking up electric signals to control an application… the application is not only getting access to the useful piece of EEG needed to control that app; it’s also getting access to the whole EEG. And that whole EEG signal contains rich information about us as persons.”

This means hackers or governments could potentially easily access a person’s thoughts when they operate, say, a bionic limb. But the Biorobotics Lab team may have a solution: it’s testing a “BCI Anonymizer” tool that would allow computers and other brain connected devices to receive only the limited amount of a person’s thoughts it would need to operate, restricting access to the rest of the person’s thoughts. Biorobotics likens this process to someone accessing an app but not the operating system the app runs on. The “BCI Anonymizer” tool is still in development—and it’s yet to see if it will work—but we’re running out of time. Brain-computer interfaces could be with us by 2025.MG