DNA Hacking – The Dark Side of Biotechnology

DNA is the blueprint for any form of life but it can also be analogized as the biggest hard drive on earth. Technically, a strand of DNA stores the entire life history of a life form. Hence, there is no reason to go “Woah” when you hear about scientists being able to store information in artificial DNA. Yes, you heard it right. They have successfully created an artificial DNA strand and managed data in it.

But sadly, it also means that a malware program can be stored in a DNA. Does that scare you? Relax, you don’t need to.

The purpose of this scary experiment was to prove that DNA could be an infection medium in the near future. The engineers created and inserted a malicious program in an artificial DNA strand. Next, they inserted the strand into a computer efficient enough to read the DNA code and the malware was installed by itself. Eventually, it infected the whole computer.

This technology is certainly premature at present. Though, at initial level, scientists were able to transfer files(pictures, poems and other files) to and fro successfully, it will take years to build commercial DNA storage. Now, as it is best to develop security measures alongside technology, it makes sense to research vulnerabilities so that threats can be prevented.

Also Read: Interesting Facts about Biotechnology

It’s Not Scary Enough

  • Firstly, it is difficult to encode a DNA strand. The attacker needs to synthesize their own DNA strand, link specific chemicals to its nucleotides(A,G,T,and C).

DNA hacked

Image Source: knowgenetics.org

Moreover, it takes a considerable effort to stabilize each nucleotide(each nucleotide is an individual code unit) and convert the code into combination of nucleotides.

  • A closer look into the attack tells that it is not different from other types of attacks. It follows the exact same procedure.

It’s Better To Be Safe Than Worry

DNA encoding will be used rather more in determining people’s identity than medical services. Someday, DNA recognition will replace OTPs and biometrics. Thus, if an attacker codes his or her DNA with malware, they could easily breach this kind of security. As best security practices are developing in parallel to the technology, scientists will certainly come up with better prevention techniques to stop intrusions.

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