Vulnerability of Veliko Memory Sentinels on Betazoid Freighters

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Vol. 323, No. 2, Stardate 239307

Vulnerability of Veliko Memory Sentinels on Betazoid Freighters

Oddas Aria


During a recent mission (Stardate 239305) the crew of the USS Thunder-A (NCC 70605-A, Akira Class) encountered the Dawn's Light, a Chealbrek IV Freighter, manufactured at the Avandar Ship Yards and commissioned 223604.12. The Dawn's Light last major refit was 236302.13 and consisted, among other things, of the installation of a telepathic security system, the Veliko Memory Sentinel (VMS), designed to allow the crew to restrict access and control of the ship to those personnel possessing specific memory engrams, bypassing the need for traditional security codes and clearances.

Logs show the VMS was in use at the time of the encounter.

Veliko Memory Sentinel

The VMS works by continuously (a refresh rate of 1.2 nanoseconds) scanning the thoughts of the personnel using a particular console in the vessel. To accomplish this a memory engram scanner, developed on Betazed by the Veliko Systems Mercantile, is integrated into each console with a direct connection to the ship's ODN network. In theory[1], each approved member of the crew is given a particular thought engram telepathically, permanently modifying the crew member's memory engrams, in the same way watermarking a computer file marks the file without altering it in a significant manner[2]. During access to ship's systems, if this engram is not found access is locked out.

The system has been in production for approximately 35 standard years without major incident.

The Exploit

Fig. 1. A Typical Consumer Holo-Imager.

During the USS Thunder-A's encounter with the Dawn's Light the ship's systems were found overridden with a small device attached to the engineering console and another attached to the environmental systems. While the devices were quickly disabled, the ease at which the security of the freighter had been overcome lead the engineering staff to believe that something had gone seriously wrong with the VMS and an analysis was ordered on the devices.

During the subsequent analysis it was determined a crew member, acting under external influences, had constructed the devices from spare parts readily available on aboard the freighter. The device found attached to the engineering console was created using a standard secondary console processor (type URT-576A) and a consumer grade holo-imager. The amount of effort required to produce the device was small, especially considering the crewman in question did so under the influence of outside primitive forces[3].

Upon analysis the key to the exploit turned out to be the memory buffer from the holo-imager. Originally thought to be used to record a primitive message (contact Starfleet records and request Oddas-Aria-Feline-Screetch-Alpha for a copy), the buffer was later determined to be used as a way to record, playback, and insert the memory engrams into the memory stream of the VMS.

In order to construct their device the crewman in question had to conduct a three part, but fairly simple, attack. First, they dismantled a, mostly likely spare, console with a VMS sensor. Second, they attached it to their holo-imager, which was trivial due to its size and its modularity (for instance, the same sensor can be used in a security camera, a door sensor, or any other ship's system), connecting the output to the imager's buffer. Finally, they pointed it at a crew member with the security permissions they desired and recorded their memory engrams.

Once the memory engrams were recorded, the override device could be created. The device was created by attached by attaching the VMS's sensor directly to the URT-576A, which served as a bridge to the holo-imager's buffer containing the memory engrams. The programming required to present the holo-imager's buffer each time the sensor requested verification was only complicated by the security system's safe guards insisting that each scan be sufficiently different to prove that the image was not static. To circumvent this check the developer added a certain amount of sensor data from the ship, such as the amount of free carbon dioxide in the surrounding air, and the VMS concluded it was registering a real crewman as opposed to a static image.

The rest of the device and programming consisted of ensuring the ship was on a particular course and other navigational features, a basic auto-pilot program that could be designed in a short period of time. It should be noted the lack of the program's safety protocols cannot be attributed to either poor programming or intent at this time. It is unknown if the developer simply wanted to get the ship to a certain location at a certain speed and because the memory engrams provided had all possible overrides the ship's computer simply obliged.


The relative ease in which the system was bypassed leads the author to believe Veliko Memory Sentinels is too easily exploitable to continue to be used as the primary security aboard active vessels. Due to its age, the advancements in both consumer electronics and shipboard systems, along with Veliko's lack of enhancements to the system to keep pace with modern technology makes it an unsuitable choice for any system where the loss of life or other critical systems is a possibility.

Possible Solutions

In the short term, it would seem the easiest solution would be for ships employing the VMS to disable the system and re-introduce individual key codes. According to Betazed shipping authorities those ships employing the VMS also employ the traditional system for those times when telepathy immune species are employed, or for when the system is simply offline (it should be noted practices aboard ship may have caused the backup systems themselves to be atrophied as the VMS has been depended on for many decades). It is possible for many ships and shipping companies this may indeed be the best long term solution.

In the long term, the addition of additional security measures that would ensure memory engrams were coming from the live test subject, possibly by combining them with another biometric sensor, could correct the flaw discussed here. Ideally, to keep a similar attack from occuring multiple different random biometric checks would occur, but this may be cost prohibitive. It appears, by examining the VMS sensors the ability to add other biometric sensors was considered (ODN connections exist to process external sensor input) but no literature[4] exists that such a setup has ever been discussed, developed, or installed on any vessel in any known civilian, diplomatic, or military fleet.



  1. A reported false negative rate of .1 percent has been reported
  2. The G'briel Sven Algorithm is employed by VMS
  3. For a complete record of the encounter, request mission logs from Starfleet
  4. search conducted 239307.01