DNA Sequencing Security and Privacy

My Role

I provided the wet lab and biological expertise needed to explore the practical aspects of DNA sequencing security and privacy.

Left to Right: Lee Organick, Karl Koscher, and Peter Ney prepare the DNA exploit.


I worked closely with members of the Security and Privacy Research Lab to investigate the security of technology surrounding biology. Specifically, we examined next generation sequencing.

In a USENIX paper, we showed that there are potential software vulnerabilities in much of the current software available to analyze next generation sequencing data. We also showed that if a software program was exceedingly vulnerable (we inserted a known vulnerability into analysis software) we could exploit the vulnerability and take over the computer just by sequencing carefully crafted synthetic DNA.

You can find more easily digestible details about this sequencing security study on the project website.

For more information, please watch first author Peter Ney’s USENIX conference talk explaining this work below.

In subsequent work, we examined privacy implications of using Next Generation Sequencing- examining mechanisms of data leaks and how to mitigate them.

Selected Press