DNA Has Gone Digital – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

By Jenna E. Gallegos, Colorado State University and Jean Peccoud, Colorado State University

Biology is becoming increasingly digitized. Researchers like us use computers to analyze DNA, operate lab equipment and store genetic information. But new capabilities also mean new risks – and biologists remain largely unaware of the potential vulnerabilities that come with digitizing biotechnology.

The emerging field of cyberbiosecurity explores the whole new category of risks that come with the increased use of computers in the life sciences.

University scientists, industry stakeholders and government agents have begun gathering to discuss these threats. We’ve even hosted FBI agents from the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate here at Colorado State University and previously at Virginia Tech for crash courses on synthetic biology and the associated cyberbiosecurity risks. A year ago, we participated in a U.S. Department of Defense-funded project to assess the security of biotechnology infrastructures. The results are classified, but


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