Modern field guide to security and privacy

Podcast: Steve Weber on why hackers may start targeting your emotions

In this episode of The Cybersecurity Podcast, UC Berkeley's Steve Weber outlines his team's research into the possible futures of the Internet and cybersecurity in 2020. 

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Steve Weber speaks about UC Berkeley's research at a Passcode event in April.

Today, you may not care if anyone hacks your Fitbit. After all, what could someone really do with data about how far you walk?  

But that kind of information could soon be an incredibly valuable part of a new frontier in data collection, said Steve Weber, faculty director of the University of California - Berkeley Center for Long Term Cybersecurity, on the latest episode of The Cybersecurity Podcast. In fact, his research modeled a not-too-distant future in which hackers may use your biometric data to track – and manipulate – emotions.

"When we add your heart rate variability, how quickly and deeply you breathe, your galvanic skin assessment, we start to get a very granular, detailed assessment of what your emotional state is at any given moment," Mr. Weber said of one scenario in his team's recently released research project modeling five possible futures of the Internet.

"Now think about what that data looks like when its in the hands of someone who wants to manipulate me, who wants to sell me something, get me to do something that I otherwise might not want to do. How would you feel if, instead of stealing your money, I make it so that you feel you want to contribute to my cause – and you write me a big fat check?"

Also this episode, podcast cohosts Peter Singer from New America and Sara Sorcher from Passcode discuss the most interesting things they learned this past month. Singer explores the relatively unknown threats to the country's ports and ships; Sorcher explains the sometimes-controversial bug bounty process in which companies exactly how much a security flaw is worth in cash

Listen to this episode: Cybersecurity in 2020, Hacking Ships, and the Price of Bugs 

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Follow the hosts: Peter W. Singer | Sara Sorcher 

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