Foundation laid for cybersecurity in brain-computer interface applications
Cyber agency receives research results
On 30 June 2022, the start-up company NeuroMentum AI GmbH handed over the results of its research assignment to develop a fundamental security architecture for future application areas with brain-computer interfaces (BCI) to the Agency for Innovation in Cybersecurity GmbH (Cyberagentur). A comprehensive framework was developed that enables "privacy by design", transparency and cyber security for future research and development.
In mid-March, the young start-up company NeuroMentum AI GmbH was awarded the contract to create a framework for cybersecurity in brain-computer interface applications as the winner of the tender. In an interview, project manager and acting department head of the Cyber Agency's "Secure Society" division, Dr Simon Vogt, summarises the most important results as well as the next steps in the research process.
Which fundamental findings were presented to you with the research results?
Neurotechnology, and BCI in particular, will fundamentally change the way people interact with machines in the coming years. There will be a multitude of application possibilities that are hardly foreseeable today, especially for the broad consumer market. In addition to this exciting potential, there are also risks inherent in the technology that need to be addressed. To this end, the cyber agency will not wait until the technology has already created facts in its dissemination and use, but aims with the project to push privacy protection and cyber security from the outset, i.e. "by design".
The research team presented a comprehensively elaborated and scientifically derived set of methods that will serve as a framework for future research and development work on brain-computer interfaces. It is the first of its kind to systematically define concrete measures that can be applied both in the current early development stage of the technology and in later, more mature product iterations. The focus is on maintaining and ensuring user control of the technology and creating transparency regarding the data recorded and processed by the systems. On the one hand, the framework is generic enough to be implemented in a wide range of applications, but on the other hand it is very specific in terms of the suggested measures.
How would you rate the working methods of the young start-up company and which problems had to be solved?
With NeuroMentum AI, we were able to win over a contractor whose team has a lot of potential to contribute to the transfer of neurotechnology for human-machine interaction from academia to commercial implementation. To allow such a young company and start-ups to participate in our project tender in principle, it was important not to set the eligibility criteria disproportionately conservatively - so our focus was more on applicants demonstrating the technical expertise of the people involved, rather than demanding long lists of project references. In the course of the project, the work between Halle (Saale) and Freiburg went smoothly and there was a close exchange of content - which was a lot of fun for both, us and the contractors.
What will be done with the findings?
The developed framework will be published by us. It will be explicitly taken up, discussed and further developed as a basic document in science. In addition, the methods developed in the framework will become part of all further projects of the Cyber Agency in the field of neurotechnology. In the next step, for example, we are planning to award a contract on BCI, which can include both hardware and software developments. This will be based on the framework that has now been completed.
Dr. Simon Vogt
Link to the abstract: