Cyberpunk and sci-fi films like the Matrix and Brainstorm play around with the idea of gaining access to the human mind. It's easy to hack a computer, but most people always thought that hacking the human brain was impossible.
As it turns out, it's entirely possible and really cheap to boot. Researchers at Usenix Security Conference have proven that it's now possible to hack the human brain. What's terrifying is that it doesn't require any kind of expensive hardware or technical knowhow. In fact, you could hack somebody's brain right now for a little under $300.
The researchers used a brain computer interface which are commonly used in research that scans brain patterns. The technology has been in use for many years now, but only recently did it come down drastically in price. The current models allow users to control their computers with their thoughts, but the researchers have proven that it goes both ways.
The team built a piece of custom software that can essentially read your mind. They were able to effectively use the software combined with the brain scanner to extract sensitive data including, but not limited to, credit card PINs, address, month of birth and more.
Thankfully, they were only able to achieve a success rate of 10 to 40 percent. It's pretty bad when they were successful though. They were able to easily work out private information that only you should know. Of course, you can easily guard against it by not thinking about it. The only problem is that we subconsciously think about a lot of things, including private matters.
It's quite different from what we see in sci-fi films, but the era of brain hacking may soon be upon us. The police and other authorities may be able to get confessions out of people far more easily if it goes into wide spread use. The researchers also warn that hackers could make brain controlled games that make it easier for them to extract sensitive data while you're busy having fun.[h/t: ExtremeTech]