Professor John Chuang, co-director and head of the project “PassThought” at University of California is working on a phenomenal breakthrough technology. If it makes public, the masses will end up with an unbreakable cyber security protocol, of which, complex and literally impossible to decipher passwords, are just the tip of the iceberg.
Under Professor Chuang’s supervision, the research team is busy carrying out tests on volunteers who’d like to take part in the program. Each volunteer straps a headband with a connector attached to it around the forehead area. Another connector presses around the earlobe region; a sensitive receiver in fact that helps transmit brain’s electric signals to a nearby computer.
The subjects are asked to think of anything, a song, or bunch of dialogues. Meanwhile, the computer interprets the information live on-screen as a series of 1’s and 0’s. Beyond these numbers, believes, Chuang, lies the secret to help computers identify who you are, your secret paraphrases/ passwords, and any other tiny details that can assist in creating a special cyber security protocol for imminent future applications.
During the last three years, “PassThought” has gone through various transitions. In its current state, the program can transmit bran signals or thought patterns to laptops and computers. The aim of the research is to create passwords and security measures that are beyond text input or conventional software applications. As a matter of fact, if this project is finally released for public use, even biometric verification and security programs will become thing of the past.
Through Chuang’s research, your personal computers, tablets and laptops will become a part of your persona. The device will bond with you, based on your thoughts, body contours and micro details such as, but not limited to the contours of your body, your past habits, your thinking process etc. It means that hackers will have a pretty hard time in hacking your device.
We all remember the celebrity photo hack incident back from 2014. Hacker Ryan Collins pleaded guilty after admitting that he mostly sent phishing emails to celebrity email accounts, while posing as some authority figure from Gmail or Apple itself.
Overall critics suggest that people, on the average, only change their passwords 4 or 5 times. What makes matters worse is that despite of all the precautionary measures, a common user will still use his date of birth, spouse’s name, favorite character name etc., mixed up with bunch of numeric combinations just to make sure that the password is “tough” to decipher for hackers.
It turns out that these conventional steps are no longer effective. The age old cyber security debate is not just confined to your personal computers. Think on a bigger scale; think about financial institutes, hospitals, colleges, universities, the defense sector and vice versa.
In this context, project “PassThought” matters a lot more than what we can assume right now. The primary goal of this project is to identify your unique traits; what makes you “you”? After all, this criterion is a fundamental stepping stone for all computer security researches. However in Professor Chuang’s case, he is doing something totally apart from the concept of mainstreaming in the computer security sector.
With brainwaves as new password transmitting medium in near future, Chuang said, “Because each brain is different, attackers who learn your password will not be able to log in.” I already am rooting for this research and we should all hope that it sees the light of the day. But don’t forget that the most important part is that this research is applied and used by people for people!