Getting mindwiped is a nightmare come true for Cyberrunners. Since Cyberrunners' minds are directly linked to The Web when they are online they are unprotected from backlash unless they've taken proper precautions. Even if precautions are in place, a more skilled Cyberrunner could find loopholes in their defenses and strike at will.
Mindwiping is a technique that is rumored to be used by Ghosts to eliminate opposition on the Web. The actual process and tech required to launch a mindwipe on someone isn't known to anyone but the Ghosts themselves and many Cyberrunners dismiss it as a spook-story. But at the same time, most every Cyberrunner has heard the story of someone who has been found comatose in front of a terminal.
Cause and effect
Mindwipe is a complete physical burnout of all active neurons in the victim's brain. Normally a cybernetic interface is built with certain safeguards in place to prevent harmful effects from passing it, but there are always ways around these, and some Cyberrunners specifically run unguarded interfaces (usually referred to as "Running Wild") to increase reaction and processing speed.
While it isn't known how the Mindwipe is performed, the results are well known. An autopsy of a mindwiped victim shows that the brain's neurons have been overloaded and burned out, ceasing most conscious brain activity. Some elements of the brain can survive and usually these functions include subconscious elements such as breathing, heartbeat and other autonomous functions.
The victim is commonly either comatose without any conscious brain activity at all, or so brain damaged that they have lost all motor function, speech, memory and ability to communicate. They are, for the lack of a better word, gibbering idiots without hope of ever being restored. Being mindwiped is commonly a death sentence.
Backlash is a term used to describe techniques, code and software that is used to attack Cyberrunners connected to The Web. Backlash commonly only causes disorientation, headaches and disconnections but can cause destruction of the cybernetic interface.
Cyberrunners are exceptionally skilled computer operators that use advanced cybernetic interfaces to navigate The Web with their mind, faster than any terminal or interface ever could
Ghosts are military operatives with access to highly advanced cybernetic equipment. They are trained to be super soldiers, assassins or highly effective infiltrators. Many Ghosts function as super-Cyberrunners and are feared by other Cyberrunners.