Although this report is unpredictable and unbelievable, cyber security experts are already involved in the potential abuse of memory implants. The real threat that attackers can steal, spy or change people's memory is not yet.
Technology that will allow this scenario to be introduced. They are devices for deep brain stimulation that enable scientists to understand how memories are created in the brain, how they can be isolated, rejuvenated or intensified.
However, the weakness of these implants is related to software and hardwars, as highlighted by the new expert research from Kaspersky Lab and the University of Oxford's Functional Neurosurgery Group.
Their research experts are based on a practical and theoretical analysis of the current vulnerability of implants used to stimulate severe brain. They are also called implantable pulse generators (IPGs) or neurostimulators.
These devices transmit electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain to promote the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, significant tremor, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The latest versions of these implants are equipped with software that allows doctors and patients to customize their settings using ordinary tablets or smartphones. Implants are connected to smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth.
"Memory implants provide an interesting and real opportunity for many patients to improve their health. The chances that we will be able to change or strengthen our memory with electrodes may sound like science fiction, but it is based on realistic scientific foundations and discoveries that are already available to us." the development of memory enhancements is just a matter of time. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we are already working with experts to understand and reduce the risks and vulnerabilities at this early stage of technology, " says Laurie Pycroff, a researcher at the Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group.
Experts have found a number of existing or potential disadvantages that the attackers could use. They include, in particular, the following areas:
- Unprotected connected infrastructure – Experts have found one serious vulnerability and a number of incorrect configurations on the Internet management platform that are commonly used by surgeons. If the attackers use them, they will receive confidential personal data and medical records.
- Unprotected and unencrypted data transmission between the implant, the programming software and any other related network could endanger the patients themselves or even a whole group of patients with the same type of implants that are attached to the same infrastructure. Any manipulation of the transmitted data may result in a change of settings that could result in physical pain, paralysis, or the unlawful acquisition of personal data by a person.
- It is advisable to protect patients from the safety of the device in the development of implants. In a life threatening situation, the doctor is able to control the implants. Therefore, these devices are not password protected, which the rescue worker would not be in possession of. This also means that these implants as a standard must be equipped with the back of the software.
- Unwarranted action by medical staff – In some cases, experts have come across sensitive patient programs that have preset passwords saved.
Medical and technology companies should intensively address both the open and predictable vulnerabilities, as quantitative and qualitative growth of neurostimulators is expected in the coming decades.
A better understanding of the functioning of the human brain will accelerate the development and use of these technologies, which will gradually become attractive targets for cybercriminals.
"Although we have not seen any attack on neurostimulas so far, research has revealed a number of vulnerabilities that may lead to hacking in the future. Therefore, it is important that healthcare professionals, the cyber security industry and medical device manufacturers work together to do away with existing vulnerabilities and future threats " adds Kaspersky Lab GReAT security team Dmitry Galov.
Scientists suggest that in five years they will be able to electronically record brain signals that are worth creating memories. They even assume that some memories can be re-created or changed before reinsertion into the brain.
In ten years, commercially available implants will be available on the market, which will improve memory. And for about 20 years, this technology will be so advanced that it will allow you to control memory extensively.