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CYBER BIOLOGY: Scientists use biological DNA to hack a computer system in ...


(Natural News) In something along the lines of an early warning, researchers at the Seattle-based University of Washington claim that they can hack into a computer with a small strand of DNA.

The experts presented their findings about a potential DNA malware infection experiment at last week's 26th USENIX Security Symposium in Vancouver.

The Daily Mail summarized the results of this malware vulnerability demonstration.

Scientists have synthesized a strand of DNA that can be used to hack computers in a world first. The malware was encoded into a gene and used to take over a computer that analyses DNA code. Scientists warn that cyber criminals could one day use faked spit or blood samples to steal information from police forensics labs, hack into university computers, or infect genome files shared by researchers.

In a paper published for the symposium, the authors underscore that significant expansion in DNA sequencing technology could have security implications:

To our knowledge, ours is the first effort to broadly consider this [DNA  processing] pipeline, and the first to demonstrate a DNA-based exploit.

Some crime labs across the country have already been compromised for conventional reasons such as employee misconduct or incompetence, but the study authors caution that their DNA computer malware experiment is difficult to replicate, and that DNA sequencing is not under threat by hackers in the present day.

"Even if someone wanted to do this maliciously, it might not work — but we found it is possible," co-author Lee Organick noted. Organick discusses the project in more detail in the video embedded below.

Lead author Tadayoshi Kohno explained that while the current threat is small, given the technology advancements that will emerge in the next decade or two, it is useful for his team and  the scientific community in general "to stay one step ahead of the bad guys," The Atlantic reported.

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