Stealing DNA sequences? It can be done with an audio recorder

3-9-2019 dna synthesis
Image credit: Alyssa Foote

Engineers at the University of California say they have demonstrated how easy it would be to snoop on biotech companies making synthetic DNA.

All you need is an audio recording, they say. Place a smartphone near a DNA synthesizer, record the sound, run the recording across algorithms trained to discern the clicks and buzzes that particular machine makes, and you’ll know exactly what combination of DNA building blocks it is generating.

The researchers demonstrated their spying technique on the Applied Biosystems 3400 DNA Synthesizer, a widely used older model.

The purpose of their exercise is to convince engineers that they must design bioinstrumentation with these kinds of security leaks in mind. Hacking data via online networks isn’t the only way to steal proprietary data, the researchers say.

Related article:  Star Trek-like 'tricorders' promise DNA analysis on the go

Perhaps we could use such algorithms to spy on ourselves. “I would welcome a microphone in my lab if it was able to listen to the routine sounds a machine is making and then tell me when there’s a deviation in those sounds, because that would be a way to get early warning of a failure or degraded performance,” says [bioengineer] William Grover.

Read full, original post: How to Steal DNA With Sound

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Nigeriacotton

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend