While most of us have investigated the structure and essential elements of DNA in biology classes, a team of professional scientists (from fields of IT and biology) have proved a disturbing hypothesis. And we do not mean a common synthesis of DNA.
The goal of the experiment is as complex as it gets: pumping DNA strand with harmful codes of a malware. Over the course of this research, collected evidence proved that computer devices indeed can be hijacked by malevolent DNA. Reflecting upon this experiment has two stages: admiration and fear.
More about the completed research
It took place in the University of Washington and the group, consisting of biologists ant security researchers, aim to elaborate more about their examination in USENIX Security conference. Can you believe that these people had the brilliance to implant malicious scripts into physical stands of DNA and exploit the ultimate product against computers?
If ever such a threat was about go gain some level of verisimilitude, it is known. While the innovative computational biologists do present solid arguments and their research is overall fascinating, trembling from a thought that DNA will corrupt your device remains a fairly irrational fear.
If you are not fluent in technicalities of similar projects, explanations about the research’s course and progress would appear as if written in a dead language. DNA is combined with chemicals, binding to DNA’s basic units of code. Each of them radiate different colors of light. Pictures of these bases are divided into smaller portions and investigated in parallel.
Once the project was drafted, a couple of restrictions were discovered and the experiment lasted for months with researchers simply trying to follow these rules and making sure that the transition from physical to digital would be successful. Sweet fruits of this attack show that a malware sample can continue to function after being transformed from a physical DNA to a virtual form.
No worries: no DNA malware infecting you in the near future
While the possibility of these attacks has been proven to be true, this does not mean that any flimsy hacker is going to attempt to take advantage of it. Also, researchers from Washington university stumbled upon several issues during their project, preventing them from being completely fair. For instance, they were the ones that implanted a specific vulnerability into a fqzcomp program instead of using an already existing one.
Remember: finding prevention against these threats is not necessary (at least for now). It is unknown when and if such hacking could take off as a successful strategy. Nevertheless, the concept is fascinating on its own.