The global village that internet is called nestles hacking and various other cyber threats which are notably expanding with the heightened exploitation capabilities of the cybercriminals. Initially, the threats ranged from stealing account data to scams for monetary gains. But with the strengthening of their attack arsenal, cybercriminals may soon be in a configuration to alter or control human memories and it will be made executable by exploiting memory implants to steal, spy on and to gain command over human brain.
In Netflix’s dystopian near-future series, Black Mirror, there’s an episode which revolves around an implanted chip allowing users to record and play whatever they see and hear- the perplexing enigma in the series makes the audience wonder whether the technology is powerful enough to manipulate the human brain or even to fiddle the memories.
Quite similar correlations between the human mind and the technology can be drawn from Michel Gondry’s science fiction, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. However, moving beyond the fiction scene, we have neuroscientists at the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who almost five years ago demonstrated how they could plant deceptive memories in the brain of mice.
Instinctively, one can conclude the positive applications of the aforementioned demonstration – which is to delete the painful and hurt causing memories but as that’s just a side of this coin, the fraudsters could exploit the terrific technology to brainwash an entire population by implanting misleading and vicious memories.
Referenced from a report by Kaspersky Lab researchers and the University of Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group – though, the most radical of all threats may be several decades away, the fundamental technical requirements already exist disguised as implantable deep brain stimulation devices.
The research categorizes the ability of cybercriminals to exploit memory implants as a growing concern with the advancements in the technological sphere; it joined the ‘coming soon’ list along with the robotic prosthetic limbs, motorized wheelchairs, and digital avatars.
Addressing the vulnerabilities and the potential threats that lie ahead the detailed study of memory implant and the intricacies of human memories – its creation and restoration is deemed essential by the scientists involved in the research. Against the vulnerabilities in the hardware and the software, they cautioned, “these need to be addressed if we are to be ready for the threats that lie ahead”. They further added, “Manipulation could result in changed settings causing pain, paralysis or the theft of private and confidential personal data,”
Experts take on memory falsification
The disorders associated with the implantable devices are ‘Parkinson’s diseases’, ‘obsessive-compulsive disorder’, ‘major depression’ and ‘essential tremor’. They are triggered by electrical impulses sent to the specific targets in the brain.
“Current vulnerabilities matter because the technology that exists today is the foundation for what will exist in the future”, said Dimitry Galoy, a junior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
“Memory prostheses are only a question of time. Collaborating to understand and address emerging risks and vulnerabilities, and doing so while this technology is still relatively new, will pay off in the future”, corroborated Laurie Pycroft, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group.
According to the researchers and the scientists, in five years from now, it is expected that they will be technologically and cognitively equipped to record the brain signals which build memories and then rewrite them before placing them back into the brain. The advancements will allow for extensive control over memories, the extent of which goes as farther as uploading a human mind into a machine with all the necessary consents.
However, the vulnerabilities that will emerge and consequently be exploited by hackers not only minimize the beauty of this terrific technology but also inflate the concerns.