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Computers can read your mind to confirm your identity

With cyber security being among the hottest topics of 2015, together with virtual reality, driverless vehicles and IoT devices, researchers around the world are looking for new and exciting ways to help us protect our data.

Researchers at Binghamton University have found a way to use brainwaves as identity confirmations, meaning a computer might read your mind to confirm your identity.

In "Brainprint," a newly published study in academic journal Neurocomputing, researchers observed the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD. They recorded the brain’s reaction to each group of letters, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words, and found that participants’ brains reacted differently to each acronym, enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer with 94 percent accuracy.

These results were also stable over time, with identification possible after a lag of up to six months.

According to Sarah Laszlo, assistant professor of psychology and linguistics at Binghamton University and co-author of "Brainprint," brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancellable and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can.

"If someone's fingerprint is stolen, that person can't just grow a new finger to replace the compromised fingerprint — the fingerprint for that person is compromised forever. Fingerprints are ‘non-cancellable.’ Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable. So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorized user, the authorized user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint," Laszlo said.

While the researchers are pretty certain you won’t use this technology to log into Facebook, it might be extremely useful in high security environments, such as the Pentagon.