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Not as incredible as it may seem
There are all sorts of news posts. We skip over some; others we read over carefully and even look for proof of what’s in them; and others we set aside to read later. But some news reports can make us stop and reflect on the subject. The news post we're going to discuss here does just that.
We’ve often talked about how hackers have a destructive mind set. People of this kind enjoy abusing others; they like feeling superior to their victims and believe the latter are to blame for their crimes (it was they who let the hackers in!).
But these are speculations. Meanwhile, military scientists have wondered whether they could measure these behavioural deviations.
The United States Department of Defence will finance an unusual research study aimed at examining the mental and physical processes occurring within hackers' bodies whilst they are mounting an attack.
According to the Register, which refers to some official documents, the experiment is to be conducted this month and next at a high-security facility run by Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
IT security professionals will participate in the Pentagon-funded study. Each of them will be engaged in a two-day capture-the-flag game. They will take part in competitions to compromise secure systems, solve puzzles and fill out questionnaires. The participants will be wearing Empatica E4 wristbands to measure their pulse and breathing. The scientists will attempt to find out what is happening to an attacker physiologically and psychologically while they are attacking a system.
The experiment is not particularly accurate. First, a competition will be taking place rather than an illegal hacking, and therefore the emotions will differ accordingly. As a matter of fact, it's an ordinary penetration test rather than a crime. Second, the recruited experts aren't criminals. They do not have destructive tendencies.
Why are we interested in this report? Well, cybercriminals often get suspended sentences, and their freedom is only restricted by electronic bracelets. But these bracelets can't prevent hackers from continuing to pursue their criminal agenda; they only restrict their freedom of movement.
The experiment may help create a device that will prevent people from conducting criminal activities.
But, without a doubt, should such a device be created, the temptation with arise to extend its scope of use by making law-abiding citizens wear it or implanting it as a chip, ostensibly to monitor their health and provide other advantages.
- Already now there exist behaviour analysis routines that detect deviations in the way services and applications are operating and thus help expose intruders. Is there a way to tell whether an information security researcher is not just working but committing a crime (especially if he takes the latter as seriously as he takes his job?) And if it’s feasible, will these IT professionals ever be forced into wearing tracking devices?
- Fitness trackers, which can measure the pulse and blood pressure, are already quite popular. Now they only monitor people’s health, but no one can stop their manufacturers from equipping them with drug injectors. And you don't need to visit a fortune teller to guess they’ll have vulnerabilities and thus become attack targets.
So who will be controlling us, and our health, in the near future, and how?