Researchers Insert Malware Into DNA to Hack Computers

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Indian Technology News

August 15, 2017

Researchers have successfully been able to inject malware into DNA to remotely hack computers.

Researchers from the University of Washington stated that one day viruses/malware could infect systems through DNA. The team explained that it’s possible to add malware to a genetic molecule and use it to infect a system that is used to analyze it. Researchers stated that the new method could be used to target university computer networks, police forensics labs, and scientists’ research facilities, by simply adding malware into faked blood or saliva samples.

The research reveals that it’s possible to add malware into genes, and could cause great risks in the future, though admittedly the new malware is still a long time away.

“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,” the researchers said.

“The DNA sequencing community, and especially the programmers of bioinformatics tools, should consider computer security when developing software. In particular, we encourage the wide adoption of security best practices like the use of memory safe languages or bounds checking at buffers, input sanitization, and regular security audits,” the researchers said in a FAQ.

“Another issue to consider is how to best maintain and patch bioinformatics software. Much of it is written and maintained by many entities, which makes it difficult to patch and has led to a high prevalence of out-of-date software.”

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