DNA exploited to hack a computer2017-08-11 17:25 by Daniela
Tags: DNA, hackers
University of Washington researchers successfully stored malware in synthetic DNA strands, and used it to gain control of the computer analyzing it.
The researchers explained their experiment in a paper titled "Computer Security, Privacy, and DNA Sequencing: Compromising Computers with Synthesized DNA, Privacy Leaks, and More".
"To assess whether this is theoretically possible, we included a known security vulnerability in a DNA processing program," they wrote. "We then designed and created a synthetic DNA strand that contained malicious computer code encoded in the bases of the DNA strand. When this physical strand was sequenced and processed by the vulnerable program it gave remote control of the computer doing the processing. That is, we were able to remotely exploit and gain full control over a computer using adversarial synthetic DNA."
If hackers did pull off the trick, the researchers say they could potentially gain access to valuable intellectual property, or possibly taint genetic analysis like criminal DNA testing. Companies could even potentially place malicious code in the DNA of genetically modified products, as a way to protect trade secrets, the researchers suggest.
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