Hacking the Brain for Fun and Profit
A study presented at the recent Usenix conference demonstrated how it is possible to get private information from the brains of people who use commercial brain-computer interfaces - like NeuroSky and Emotiv.
These headsets are designed for gamers and are cheaper, less accurate versions of EEG devices - used by scientists to read the electrical activity of the brain by attaching electrodes to the surface of the scalp.
The new study, titled ‘On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces’ (available online as a pdf), took advantage of a reliable brain signal called the P300.
The P300 reflects the brain’s categorisation of something as relevant, important or meaningful. If you’re shown a series of photo portraits, for example, the P300 will kick in when you see photos of people you recognise but not to strangers.