Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / / Other
Malicious code written in the DNA that can infect computers
Material posted: Publication date: 15-08-2017
This was expected, since the moment when scientists learned howto upload digital information inside macromolecules of deoxyribonucleic acid. For the first time, researchers were able to infect the virus the computer, analyze the DNA, which had made the malicious code. It seems that all of us are waiting for a fascinating biankouma future where you can hack everything, including primary storage of genetic information of any biological organism.

A team of scientists from the University of Washington did not plan to get into the news columns of scientific portals. But it seems that it was inevitable. They were concerned about the security of the transcription process and DNA analysis, because this difficult task is based on software with open access to the source code. And use this software hundreds of laboratories around the world. If an attacker can load malicious code into the system, very expensive tests, to put it mildly, will be covered with a copper basin.

Of course, the researchers were able to demonstrate the vulnerability of the system using more traditional methods. For example, use remote access tools over the Internet. But scientists decided to go in his experiment a little further. As the carrier of malicious code, it was decided to use a DNA source material with which the analyzer system has to deal every day.

"Our main goal is to try to avoid situations where the offender will be knocking at our door, and we will absolutely not ready for this," says Professor Tadayoshi Kono, who for many years engaged in research in the field of security and built-in niche for electronics, including expensive scientific instruments.

Software scientific equipment arranged in such a way that the transforms obtained from the DNA data into binary data. The bit stream stored in the buffer of fixed size, assuming a reasonable maximum length of a reading. This gives attackers the underlying vulnerability of the buffer overflow data, which the software executes slipped malicious code. Let the experiment and was not used "computer virus" in the traditional sense, but the code was very close to that. Because with it scientists have been able to access the computer management.

The researchers hope that they will convey to the scientific community with this important information. After all, if expensive research equipment is so vulnerable to hack it even at the DNA level, many studies could be in jeopardy. But it does not promise anything good to mankind. The results of their study, the researchers will present to the public at the USENIX Security conference, to be held next week in Vancouver.


RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security