The dependence on technology has never been greater and we still expect a large increase in it in the coming years; Every day some more tools and resources accompany us in our daily lives, automating processes and making our lives easier. However, not only do benefits arise from this dependence, but it also opens the door to equally or more important risks, which pose prejudices to security, privacy, and even freedom. From the perspective of cybersecurity, the possibility of hacking and theft of information is a latent problem and so relevant that today the question arises: can humans be hacked? In this article we will tell you everything about it, so… don’t miss it!

What is hacking?

The possibility of hacking humans represents a tremendous advance from a technological perspective and the development of increasingly efficient tools, even if it is for harmful purposes. But to get there and understand the implications of hacking on humans, we must start from the foundations of the concept, from being clear about what hacking is.

From a technological point of view, hacking is understood as a set of intrusive activities that exploit a computer system or a private network without authorization, compromising different types of digital devices. Hacking, then, is a ─generally malicious─ activity that spreads malware in a random attack without user interaction, making it a technical concept by nature. However, it also has strategies that use psychology to make the user open a malicious file or share their information: this is the so-called social engineering.

People who carry out this activity are known as hackers, individuals who take advantage of their skills and knowledge to modify software or hardware. These are classified as black hat hackers (hidden, who break computer systems), ethical or white hat hackers (they hack systems to identify vulnerabilities, hired by companies), and gray hat hackers (they do not exclusively carry out criminal activities).

With this in mind, we can discover if it is possible to hack humans.

Is it possible to hack humans?

Can humans be hacked

For many experts, the era in which hacking humans is possible has arrived. Already very far from science fiction, the technology industry has relied on various tools and disciplines so that the same technology is increasingly closer to human beings and even integrates with them. However, the rapid and surprising progress in this field has prevented regulations from being truly efficient, triggering problems such as the one mentioned above.

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Today, the information that technology is fed with not only comes from the Internet itself or data collected for years; On the contrary, new devices and processes allow us to collect information about our bodies, the functioning of our genes, and our daily attitudes and emotions, to establish characteristics and behaviors that help predict the solution to possible needs.

Chips that are inserted into the brain, wearable devices, or voice assistants are examples of them. However, this means increasing freedom for unscrupulous people to use said information against the user or companies, not only misusing it but also putting their physical integrity or privacy at risk. This has been strengthened by changing characteristics of the brain-computer interface, genetic manipulation, and manipulation of personal data. We will talk to you about all this in the next section.

Brain-computer interfaces

There is no doubt that one of the big steps towards the possibility of hacking humans is the construction and development of brain-computer interfaces. These are systems that allow direct communication between, as their name indicates, the brain and a computer. These interfaces allow the electrical activity produced by neurons to be received, processed, and decoded so that the devices perform a necessary action.

Currently, these interfaces are used in fields such as medicine ─from motor rehabilitation, assisted communication, self-regulation of brain activity or brain monitoring─, education and training ─learning and training in different fields─, games and entertainment ─more immersive experiences─ and the control of robotic devices or elements of the environment.

These are biotechnological solutions with relevant advantages, such as improvement in communication processes, higher quality of life and health, or even improvement in cognitive activities, because this interface allows the user to access information transmitted directly from their device. brain to perform more efficient actions.

However, the risks of this type of tool are also highly relevant. Among them, it is worth highlighting that its performance cannot be 100% assured, which can generate alterations in subjective well-being and increase levels of dependency, but, above all, it involves processes that put at risk the misuse of data, promoting risk. of hacks or thefts that lead to the violation of our privacy and that allow algorithms to manipulate brain mechanisms directly, making independent decisions.

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Genetic manipulation and CRISPR

Another of the fundamental factors to know if it is possible to hack humans is genetic manipulation and CRISPR. Genetic modification is understood as a process through which a DNA fragment is detected, extracted, and replaced by another. One of the genetic manipulation techniques is CRISPR, which offers an innovative ability to manipulate cells using guides and the Cas9 protein to target specific areas of DNA and cut; By manipulating the genome in this way, one can, among other things, correct genetic mutations, eliminate pathogenic sequences, insert therapeutic genes or activate and deactivate genes.

Now, although the health consequences can be highly beneficial, the truth is that genetic manipulation is surrounded by great controversy. The possibility of changing human genes is considered, by many experts, as one of the ways to hack humans, since it involves modifying a human genome that, yes or yes, will change some human characteristics for future generations.

In this way, if genetic manipulation processes fall into the wrong hands or are used irregularly, they can transform the nature of the individual without necessarily having their consent, that is, it will have truly disastrous consequences. In general terms, studies have shown that genetic editing is, from a biological perspective, very similar to the technological hacking of software: a modification is made seeking a specific objective.

Cybersecurity and personal data

Hand in hand with the above, it is no secret to anyone that in whatever form, billions of records of personal information are stolen every day through hacking. This is an increasingly powerful and common business whose limits have expanded far beyond just promoting a technical computer attack, favoring the emergence of manipulation strategies so that the same users provide their personal information. These techniques make up social engineering.

This concept and practice is considered a way to hack humans because it takes advantage of and exploits human abilities, rather than those of a computer system it is sometimes called a human-computer attack; An example of this is phishing (digital or voice messages). Through these techniques, data such as login credentials, account or credit card numbers, and social security numbers, among others, are obtained.

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In most cases, this data is used to sell this information to other criminals, usurp accounts, or extort users or companies that handle said information. This information is also used to promote commercial campaigns and forms of manipulation so that the user buys or accesses a specific service.

Ethical and social implications of hacking humans 

Can humans be hacked

As with many of the processes that are part of different industries, the possibility of hacking humans has important ethical implications. Among these, it is worth mentioning that the option of inserting devices ─such as brain implants─ or modifying the human genome has irreparable damage to human nature and how we relate to the world around us.

Furthermore, human-brain interfaces are, first and foremost, built by humans and therefore remain at risk of errors and failures that allow malicious people to violate the privacy of the individual and directly manipulate how your body and brain work. This possibility would involve hacking our operating system and all those elements that are fundamental to civilization, such as language and culture.

At the pace at which we are going, future scenarios could be marked by artificial intelligence that feeds on the information of our humanity to make decisions, make us change our minds, or transform our actions; an intelligence capable of appropriating our language and traditions to create for itself and, eventually, surpass us. Hacking humans would, then, be the first step to the loss of our very humanity.

 

Despite the above, all is not lost. We have a pressing need to create rigorous security controls that guarantee the protection of our bodies and the data on our devices; In addition, we must slow down the advance of these technologies until we have all the regulations and guidelines for use clear, as well as how they will be made public. All hand in hand with the constant training of each of the users.

Final words

The fear of aliens has marked our history, but what about the fear of what we are capable of doing? What about the fear of letting technology take over our biological information and use it to modify our actions What about the need to seek regulation for the use of new technologies? At buzzbongo we want to know your answers, so do not hesitate to write to us below, in the comments section.