August 16, 2017

Malware Encoded in DNA Infects the Computer

201708003img002.jpgPhoto by PublicDomainPictures on


Nowadays, the precisely-crafted DNA encoded with malware programs can successfully infect computers. Well, is it the plot of a sci-fi fiction authored by the best-selling author, Michael Crichton? Probably not! It is not fictitious any more. It is true!


Researchers from the University of Washington said they succeeded in taking over a computer using strands of DNA encoded with a malicious program. It was the first time using tailor-made DNA to compromise a computer system.


Photo by University of Washington


It was reported that four building blocks in DNA represented by the letters A, C, G, and T respectively, were denoted as 1 and 0, the basic binary system readable by a computer. The sequence of the building blocks based on the binary system was encoded with the malicious program.


When the computer analyzed the sequenced DNA, a buffer overflow took place. The malicious program encoded in DNA tries to input more data to a buffer which is unable to store. The occurrence of a buffer overflow leads to the overwriting of the adjacent memory location. As such, it causes an erratic performance of the program, memory access errors and crashes.



Photo from


Technically, it is possible to use DNA as media to put malware into the computer and attack it. Researchers thought the process to do so is difficult and quit tortuous, so it doesn’t immediately pose any threat to our computer.


However, this research manifests it is time to keep eye on the DNA security. DNA to be a media of carrying malwares will be the future harm to our computing systems, for example, in the the university, medical company, hospital and laboratory.


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