Espresso of Innovation: Cracking Hacking

Hello and welcome to this week’s Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration. This week, we talk security and neurohacking.

Data security has always been a concern and in the past week alone China had the largest ever cyber attack and the Syrian Hacktivist army hacked into the US marines recruitment site to deliver propaganda messages.

It’s a little scary what’s possible with a computer and the knowledge of how to use it. Dan Gilmor for the Guardian wrote a pretty chilling account of the current state of hacking and gave some preventative advice – though it may be a little over cautious.

Worryingly it is governments, not criminals, who are most interested in Zero-day attack tools. However, the US government every year opens up its databases to hackers for social good. Many great innovations and efficiencies that help mankind have come from this. Luckily there are many people out there dedicated to finding a technological solution. Events, such as Blackhat, have sprung up that focus on sharing practical insights and timely, actionable knowledge on information security from all sides.

Unfortunately, our computers aren’t the only ones at risk. In the future it may not just be our data that people can steal and use against us but our own minds as well. Researchers at the University of Washington have performed what they believe is the first non-invasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher. As with all great technology this could be used for good or bad, with the positives being most noticeable in fields like medicine using it to better understand someone’s ailment.

It’s not just mind-control we should be worried about but hackers actually hacking into our brain and stealing vital data: apparently “Inception” is not just an impressive sci-fi film anymore. Using brain scanning technology such as EEG and a computer algorithm, researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Geneva, and the University of California, Berkeley have designed an application able to access sensitive data in the human brain such as your debit card PIN, home location and month of birth.

If by now you’re still freaked out about hackers, why not just get off the grid altogether and join a meshnet. Across the US, from Maryland to Seattle, work is underway to construct user-owned wireless networks that will permit secure communication without surveillance or any centralized organization.

Like anything in a digital age there are positives and negatives to hacking. But there are definitely benefits of being an open source business: essentially it provides collaborative problem solving, which you can read about here.