Here’s How Hackers Will Use Telepathy to Guess Your Passwords

Next season, on 'Black Mirror' ...

May 8, 2017 9:00 am

Lemme guess: You have a password so strong, it would take someone reading your mind to break the code.


Meet the Epoc+, a $800 “Neuroheadset” from Emotiv that reads brainwaves. The technology is supposed to allow a user to gauge emotion or control devices with their thoughts (like game controllers). It’s a science called electroencephalography (EEG), which detects voltage changes in the outer layer of the brain.

But there could be darker consequences. Research by Nitesh Saxena, an associate professor at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, suggests that the device could use algorithms and user patterns to guess personal passwords fairly easily. As noted by the MIT Technology Review, using an Epoc+ during certain simulations shortens the odds of guessing another person’s four-digit PIN from 1 in 10,000 to a manageable 1 in 20, and increases the guess of a six-figure password 500,000 times.

Now, this pseudo-telepathic technology is early going (no matter what Elon Musk says), and very few people have access to these headsets. We can only hope, if their popularity increases, that safeguards are put in place.

Best bet? When you can, stick to random multi-word phrases for your password. And try not to show any emotion.

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