By Darlene Storm
From the let’s get futuristically freaky department, future hacking crimes could take a decidedly sinister twist; not hacking to breach systems but brains, bodies and behaviors. This DNA hacking goes way beyond potentially using police bees to bust biohackers, or even storing unhackable data in box of bio-encrypted bacteria. It’s not science fiction to hack insulin pumps or to use jamming signals to stop hackers from lethal pacemaker attacks, but now bioengineers and security futurists are warning that the day is coming when criminals and bioterrorists hunt for vulnerabilities that will give a new meaning to zero-day exploits. In the future, a weaponized virus will aim to infect you, your brain and body biology, and not just your computer or mobile device.
While some people resist the idea of needing antivirus or other security software defenses for their smartphones, in the world of synthetic biology, a world where bits, bytes, atoms and biology mix dreams with nightmare realities, it could be lethal to lag behind in patching potential vulnerabilities. Some day, when you hear about something going ‘viral,’ it will not apply to an idea or video but to a DNA hack going viral to infect the masses. When a computer is infected with malware or a virus, you can reformat a hard drive, but will a future security scenario include needing to worry about BSOD and reformatting your brain?