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How hackers might target your body and brain

Self-driving cars, prosthetics that turn neurological impulses into movement, and devices merged with our brains. The future that sci-fi movies and books once envisioned is almost here. These new scientific discoveries may revolutionize society, but they may also introduce new security challenges.

How hackers might target your body and brain

Revealing the secrets of the brains

Space exploration and electric vehicles aren’t enough for Elon Musk. In 2017, he founded Neuralink, a company that was built to find a way to merge human brains with technology. If it succeeds, people could control computers and other devices solely with their mind. In 2019, Musk claimed that they had already conducted successful tests with monkeys.

A year later, in 2020, Neuralink put a chip into the pig’s head and released a video. A pig named Gertrude was eating snacks and every time she had contact with her snout, there was a beep on the computer screen, representing signals coming from her brain. What amazed many that she had no wires or any other equipment attached.

Neuralink’s president, Max Hodak, said that the new technology will be “controlled by an iPhone app. You won’t have to go to a doctor’s office and have them have a programmer configure it.” This suggests that this connection with your mind could become subject to the same risks that any other app or device could be subject to.

Typing with our mind

Stanford University researchers have already demonstrated technology that allows people with paralysis to type via brain control. Three study participants had electrodes implanted in their brains to record signals from the motor cortex. These signals were transmitted to a computer via a cable and translated into commands on an onscreen keyboard.

After the participants were trained in the technique, they were able to type up to 8 words per minute with their mind.

For now, these types of brain-computers are expensive and not available to the public. Besides, you probably wouldn’t want to walk around with electrodes sticking out of your skull.

Brain hacking technologies are also attracting major tech companies like Facebook. A dedicated team is now working on a similar device and claims that it will highly benefit people with disabilities.

Can a prosthetic arm commit a crime?

DEKA Research & Development Corp. has developed next-gen prosthetic arms that translate signals received from muscles into motion. However, these prosthetics can also be remotely monitored and can receive commands.

Imagine if a hacker took control of your prosthetic arm. What could they do to you or those around you? You could end up in jail for things you haven’t done. Since hacks on IoT devices are steadily growing, this newly emerging technology could attract wrongdoers.

What are the greatest risks?

  • Cloud security. Information from the prosthetic devices or your brain will probably be stored in the cloud. If somebody hacks into your cloud storage, they could modify the data, delete it, or even hold it for ransom.
  • Software and firmware updates. Tech companies will have to guarantee constant timely updates — their absence can compromise your security.
  • Bluetooth vulnerabilities. Bluetooth’s wireless connection is useful for devices integrated into our bodies, but it also has security problems and can open a door to hackers.
  • Malware. If a hacker can install malware on your prosthetic or a device connected to your brain, he could inflict pain, erase your memory, or even extract information.

How to protect yourself from these risks? Take care of your connections, data, and devices. Install every update the moment it’s available. Encrypt the data you store on the cloud. And use NordVPN — it will protect your connections with bulletproof encryption. It will also make sure you don’t accidentally download a malicious file or click on a dangerous pop-up while browsing.

Additionally, you can choose a NordVPN plan with Threat Protection included. This feature blocks intrusive ads and trackers and will block your access if you try to visit a malicious website. It also scans the files you’re downloading. If it detects malware in them, Threat Protection deletes it immediately, before it can do any damage to your device.