July 09, 2009
Security Risk Seen For Electronic Brain Implants
Neural implants with wireless controls could be hacked and used for nefarious purposes.
According to Kohno and his colleagues, who published their concerns July 1 in Neurosurgical Focus, most current devices carry few security risks. But as neural engineering becomes more complex and more widespread, the potential for security breaches will mushroom.
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 donít build in security features such as encryption and access control, an attacker could hijack the device and take over the robotic limb.
The Manchurian Candidate could be remote controlled.
Imagine implants that interface the brain to artificial eyes. Hack into them and you could potentially create images of things that are not really there.
So far one's brain is one's private preserve. This won't always be the case.
As is so often the case, science fiction has been looking at this for some time. There are a few japanese anime series running under the title Ghost in the Shell that are really quite good and available on Netflix's instant download if you've got some time to kill.
So make it a requirement that the user of the device confirm every attempt. Or more specifically, make it so that the user has to open the port up for transmission in the first place. So if I'm walking down the street, implanted, no matter how many times someone initiates a handshake with my device, it won't respond. Not until: a) I have activate its response system, and b) the handshake protocol passes through with the proper encryption.
That should cover just about everyone except those in very sensitive fields. In which case, the level of security clearance you can pass may, on top of everything else, require that you not have any implants, or have implants that conform to x security standards. That, I'm afraid, is going to be an even worse nightmare. Not to mention that it may be requirement of some security establishments for you to get an implant. Not necessarily to control you, but to keep you from blabbing secrets out except when in a secure environment (I believe it's possible to tell when someone has a secret on their mind). What a wonderful world awaits us, no?
Not with any implant I'd willingly let in my head. I'd be happy to install an interface to manipulate a computer or access the internet without needing a keyboard, but it would have to be a ROM-only interface with the feedback filteed, plus a panic button to shut it down completely if someone finds a way to push an unwanted signal past the filter.
Sometimes I swear half of cyberpunk is just a transparent attempt to port demonic possession into SF settings.
And Ghost in the Shell takes the whole cyberbrain thing to a preposterous level of penetration, to the point that even religious luddites have some degree of minor cyber architecture in their skulls.
If you can control someone else's thoughts then what do you care what they think about it?
Too late for all that. TM, Tatterdemalion, Paul, et al: The only reason Randall was allowed to publish this entry, and you all were allowed to read it, is that the technology is so ubiquitous and so far advanced, that this type of speculation over decades old technology cannot possibly affect our mission.
We started with top politicians and the media, of course. From there we infiltrated leaders in science, academia, commerce, militaries, law enforcement, and even organized crime. We have almost completed our sweep of bloggers and are well along in our infiltration of blog commenters. We know you better than you know yourselves.
Relax. Let it happen. We have your well being at heart, and soon everyone will understand.
Brain Illuminators International, I am hiding out with John Connor. We think we can stop you. I call upon all remaining free people to join us in our fight against the brain implants.
It's times like this I'm glad I invested in a faraday-cage bug net over my bed.