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Researchers can find your deepest secrets by scanning your brain

The next privacy crisis could revolve around EEG scanning.
Sean Buckley, @seaniccus
September 9, 2016
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Verifying your identity with brainwave scans sounds pretty awesome on the surface, but new research from from Texas Tech University shows that EEG identification could be the start of a whole new world of privacy concerns. It's not so much that brainwaves are susceptible to forgery, like fingerprints -- it's that EEG scanning applications can glean a lot more from your grey matter than you might want. Like, for instance, if you're secretly an alcoholic.

Security researchers Abdul Serwadda and Richard Matovu recently tested a pair of EEG authentication systems to see if it was possible to identify personal information from anonymous brainwave scans. The pair created a machine learning system that compared the new brainwaves scans to EEG scans from a group of known alcoholics -- and the machine successfully identified 25-percent of persons who identified themselves as alcoholics in the new sample. "We weren't surprised," Serwadda said of the experiment. "We know the brain signal is so rich in information."

These markers can probably be used to the benefit of medical science, but with brainwave scanners edging closer to the mainstream, it's also possible that the data could be used to identify traits in users. If you're uncomfortable with social networks selling your third-party information now, just think about what it'll be like when they're selling data based on your brainwaves.

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