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Cyberattacks on Miniature Brain Implants to Disrupt Spontaneous Neural Signaling

Bernal, Sergio Lopez and Celdran, Alberto Huertas and Maimo, Lorenzo Fernandez and Barros, Michael Taynnan and Balasubramaniam, Sasitharan and Perez, Gregorio Martinez (2020) 'Cyberattacks on Miniature Brain Implants to Disrupt Spontaneous Neural Signaling.' IEEE Access, 8. 152204 - 152222. ISSN 2169-3536

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Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) arose as systems that merge computing systems with the human brain to facilitate recording, stimulation, and inhibition of neural activity. Over the years, the development of BCI technologies has shifted towards miniaturization of devices that can be seamlessly embedded into the brain and can target single neuron or small population sensing and control. We present a motivating example highlighting vulnerabilities of two promising micron-scale BCI technologies, demonstrating the lack of security and privacy principles in existing solutions. This situation opens the door to a novel family of cyberattacks, called neuronal cyberattacks, affecting neuronal signaling. This article defines the first two neural cyberattacks, Neuronal Flooding (FLO) and Neuronal Scanning (SCA), where each threat can affect the natural activity of neurons. This work implements these attacks in a neuronal simulator to determine their impact over the spontaneous neuronal behavior, defining three metrics: number of spikes, percentage of shifts, and dispersion of spikes. Several experiments demonstrate that both cyberattacks produce a reduction of spikes compared to spontaneous behavior, generating a rise in temporal shifts and a dispersion increase. Mainly, SCA presents a higher impact than FLO in the metrics focused on the number of spikes and dispersion, where FLO is slightly more damaging, considering the percentage of shifts. Nevertheless, the intrinsic behavior of each attack generates a differentiation on how they alter neuronal signaling. FLO is adequate to generate an immediate impact on the neuronal activity, whereas SCA presents higher effectiveness for damages to the neural signaling in the long-term.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brain computer interfaces, security, artificial neural networks, biological neural networks
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 13:51
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 13:51

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