EEG graph with activity sections highlighted, one part highlighted as "F" and other as "6"

DREEMWORK Lets You Code Morse From Inside Your Dream

Lucid dreaming fascinates hackers. Every few years for over a decade now, we’ve seen a serious project dedicated to studying or taking advantage of this phenomenon, and the interest in this topic hasn’t faded still. [Michael] has contacted us to tell about a small and unconventional breakthrough that a few lucid dream hackers have accomplished — communicating in Morse code from their dream using eye movements.

These hackers are using Dreem 2 and 3 headbands, which include clinical-grade polysomnography features like EEG measurements, which is instrumental for decoding eye movements. [Michael] tells us that one of the participants, [Sebastiii], was able to transfer the letter F by looking twice to the left, then right and left again – ..-. in Morse. With an off-the-shelf headband, this information transmission method is quite accessible to anyone willing to learn Morse, and [Michael] himself is now working on an automated decoding solution. We might forget what happens in our dreams fairly quickly, but this unexpected side channel could be a good counter.

[Michael] has tipped us off to many of the projects we’ve covered, and himself has quite a history in the field. His own research into using Morse to communicate out of lucid dreams dates back as far as 2012. If your ham exam preparations have you dream in Morse, perhaps this is the perfect project to join. A lot of projects we’ve seen focus on gaining enough awareness to achieve lucidity first, like the variety of lucid dream-invoking masks we’ve covered over the years. This part being thoroughly explored, it makes sense that communication is the next frontier to be tackled.

Morse Keyboard Communicates With The Blink Of An Eye

Most of us use our hands to interface with computers, but the human body is capable of many types of input other than that of fingers and feet. But what about people who can’t use their extremities and don’t have a voice? For their sake, it’s time to get creative.

[Michael Paul Coder] has made a way to type simply by blinking in Morse code. Those of you with long memories may recall Lucid Scribe, where he was attempting to document lucid dreaming experiments by detecting rapid eye movements with an accelerometer and triggering his computer to play music. This would in turn notify [Michael] that he was in fact dreaming and was safe to tie a cape around his neck and take a flying leap from a tall building.

Whereas [Michael]’s creation needed a commercial EEG device before, he’s now made it work with just an old webcam thanks to the new trans-consciousness messaging protocol, which operates by using facial detection and then interpreting the amount of changed pixels between video frames. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.

You know how much we love assistive technology around here — just two years ago, the Byte took top honors in The Hackaday Prize.

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BBC Micro:bit Reads Morse Code With MakeCode

We always have mixed feelings about the drag-and-drop programming languages. But we were impressed with [SirDan’s] Morse code decoder built with the graphical MakeCode. Granted, it is reading 5 element groups from a button on the BBC micro:bit and not worrying about details such as intercharacter or interelement spacing or word spacing. But it is still a nice demo for MakeCode.

Interestingly, the online editor for MakeCode can apparently simulate well enough to test the program. However, [SirDan] only provides the hex file so we couldn’t try it out. There is a screenshot of the visual code, but you’d have to work out the part that didn’t fit on the screenshot (the data arrays are pretty long).

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Quick And Simple Morse Decoder

[Rostislav Persion] wrote a simple Morse Code decoder to run on his Arduino and display the text on an LCD shield. This is probably the simplest decoder possible, and thus its logic is pretty straightforward to follow. Simplicity comes at a price — changing the speed requires changing constants in the code. We would like to see this hooked up to a proper Morse code key, and see how fast [Rostislav] could drive it before it conks out.

In an earlier era of Morse code decoders, one tough part was dealing with the idiosyncrasies of each sender. Every operator’s style, or “fist”, has subtle variations in the timings of the dots, dashes, and the pauses between these elements, the letters, and the words. In fact, trained operators can recognize each other because of this, much like we can often recognize who is speaking on the phone just by hearing their voice. The other difficulty these decoders faced was detecting the signal in low signal-to-noise ratio environments — pulling the signal out of the noise.

A Morse decoder built today is more likely to be used to decode machine-generated signals, for example, debugging information or telemetry. This would more than likely be sent at fixed, known speeds over directly connected links with very high S/N ratios (a wire, perhaps). In these situations, a simple decoder like [Rostislav]’s is completely sufficient.

We wrote about a couple of Morse code algorithms back in 2014, the MorseDetector and the Magic Morse algorithm. While Morse code operators usually rank their skills by speed — the faster the better — this Morse code project for very low power transmitters turns that notion on its head by using speeds more suitably measured in minutes per word (77 MPW for that project). Have you used Morse code in any of your projects before? Let us know in the comments below.

This Week In Security: Morse Code Malware, Literal And Figurative Watering Holes, And More

Code obfuscation has been around for a long time. The obfuscated C contest first ran way back in 1984, but there are examples of natural language obfuscation from way earlier in history. Namely Cockney rhyming slang, like saying “Lady from Bristol” instead of “pistol” or “lump of lead” instead of “head”. It’s speculated that Cockney was originally used to allow the criminal class to have conversations without tipping off police.

Code obfuscation in malware serves a similar purpose — hiding from security devices and applications. There are known code snippets and blacklisted IP addresses that anti-malware software scans for. If that known bad code can be successfully obfuscated, it can avoid detection. This is a bit of a constant game of cat-and-mouse, as the deobfuscation code itself eventually makes the blacklist. This leads to new obfuscation techniques, sometimes quite off the wall. Well this week, I found a humdinger of an oddball approach. Morse Code.

Yep, dots and dashes. The whole attack goes like this. You receive an email, claiming to be an invoice. It’s a .xlsx.hTML file. If you don’t notice the odd file extension, and actually let it open, you’re treated to a web page. The source of that page is a very minimal JS script that consists of a morse code decoder, and a payload encoded in Morse. In this case, the payload is simply a pair of external scripts that ask for an Office 365 login. The novel aspect of this is definitely the Morse Code. Yes, our own [Danie] covered this earlier this week, but it was too good not to mention here. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Morse Code Malware, Literal And Figurative Watering Holes, And More”

Ethernet Goes To The Ether

Since the ether is an old term for the fictitious space where radio waves propagate, we always thought it was strange that the term ethernet refers to wired communication. Sure, there are wireless devices, but that’s not really ethernet. [Jacek] had the same thought, but decided to do something about it.

What he did is use two different techniques to alter the electromagnetic emission from an ethernet adapter on a Raspberry Pi. The different conditions send Morse code that you can receive at 125 MHz with a suitable receiver.

Practical? Hardly, unless you are looking to exfiltrate data from an air-gapped machine, perhaps. But it does have a certain cool factor. The first method switches the adapter between 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps. The second technique uses a stream of data to accomplish the modulation. The switching method had a range of around 100 meters while the data-based method topped out at about 30 meters. The code is on GitHub if you want to replicate the experiment.

There is plenty of precedent for this sort of thing. In 1976 Dr. Dobb’s Journal published an article about playing music on an Altair 8800 by running code while an AM radio was nearby. We’ve seen VGA adapters forced to transmit data, too.

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Bluepill Copies Code So You Don’t Have To

You really should learn to read Morse code. But if you can’t — or even if you can, and just want a break — you can always get a computer to do it. For example, [jmharvey1] has a decoder that runs on a cheap Bluepill dev board.

The device uses a touchscreen and a few common components. The whole thing cost about $16. You can see it at work along with a description of the project in the video below.

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