Will Bacteria Stop Cell Phone Malware Attacks

Media Division | December 28, 2016

The applications for technology within our society seem almost endless.  Every day we are developing new technologies and ways to apply it.  It has become a very integrated part of our day to day life and operation.  As a new line of advancement, experts are looking into combining technology with biology.  Deemed “biohybrid,” or “synthetic biology,” this realm of technological advancement could mean a whole new area of expansion. While it is not currently anything immediate, over the next few years it may become as big as smartphones.

US Army Contemplates Using Bacteria in Electronics

One organization that has been experimenting with this type of technology is the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL).  The premise is essentially that bacteria can be genetically engineered and integrated into systems to perform different functions.  This includes performance enhancement, sensing, and material synthesis.  It is even being postulated that this tech will possibly make autonomous biohybrid devices a reality.

According to an article from Armed With Science, “The potential systems that could be developed include synthetic photosynthetic genetic circuits, which could be introduced into the bacteria integrated into electronic devices to power them.

Other robust bacteria could be genetically engineered with biological tasting or smelling capabilities that interface with the electronics to form an advanced biosensor.
Custom consortia, or mixed-cell populations, could be tailored to produce biochemicals on demand under field conditions, as a probiotic to protect Soldiers from infection, or genetically tuned to form smart, living paints.”
Potential Security Risks

The notion of this new technology-biology hybrid has security experts keeping a watchful and vigilant eye.  The potential cyber security risks of this melding may be a distant thought at this time, but it could easily become an exploit for potential attacks.  At one time, phone-based attacks were extremely unlikely, but now are as common as any type of cyber attack, which is why there are security concerns in regard to synthetic biology and new technology in general.  Cyber criminals are always searching for a new avenue to exploit.

This brings up an interesting question, could this new technology be used a security tool as well?  This “living” technology per say, could be used as a defense against malware attacks sometime in the future.  The implementation of genetically engineered bacteria into technology may have the potential to create a defense which could react quicker than general security technology.  This may simply be a pipe dream, but perhaps in the future, potential phone malware will be blocked and eliminated in its tracks by bacteria

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