Data storage was never such a big issue in the past. However, nowadays, every day, we produce a massive amount of data. The newest form of storing data is DNA sequencing. The current leader in long-term storage is magnetic tape. Unfortunately, magnetic tapes can store data only for thirty years. One device has the capacity of only a terabyte of data. In comparison, DNA Fountain-based storage could store data at a density of 215 petabytes per gram of DNA.

But to store a massive amount of data in such a tiny medium has its unique list of dangers. Let us look at those potential risks one by one.

  • Risk for Computers: At the moment, there is no threat to your computer by storing data into a DNA sequence. However, similar to every data medium, hackers can use DNA storage to keep and spread malware.
  • Intentional insertion of malware:  Unfortunately, one of the main disadvantages of using DNA-based storage is that the physical world can modify your DNA. A skillful attacker can create an entirely different set of threats such as biological viruses or bacterias, transmitting and injecting malware programs into your DNA storage.
  • No way to erase the storage: Once written, DNA is usually quite tricky to modify. We should treat the DNA-based storages such as highly capable compact discs with slow rewriting capabilities. The most trustful way to erase such storage is to eradicate it.
  • Easier to physically steal: How do you assure the physical security of under one gram of data? Do we store it in a safe? Sure, but hackers can make a hole in your safe and steal your data. The size of DNA-based storage devices introduces an entirely different set of challenges for your physical security.
A sample diagram of how DNA-based storage works. To record your data into DNA, you can create an entirely new footprint with your data encoded as Nucleo code. After that, you have to synthesis it into a DNA sequence.

Benefits of using DNA based storages:

Despite the threats, we could still prefer DNA-based storage in the future because it can store data for thousands of years, unlike hard drives. The information stored in DNA will not go extinct until human beings exist. These characteristics make DNA-based storage a perfect replacement for the currently used cold backup systems such as magnetic tapes.

How to control the security threats associated with DNA-based storages?

Fortunately, at this current moment, there is no significant adoption of DNA-based storage devices. The current leader is magnetic tape and will stay the same for foresee future. At the same time, the ordinary person does no use magnetic tape to store data. Usually, we use a collection of hard drives with multiple copies of our data. With this in mind, we can deduce that DNA-based storage will find its use mainly in data centers and big corporations’ data storage departments. Still, it is essential to understand that we must implement an entirely different set of techniques when we speak about DNA. With our current speed of technological development, it is quite possible to have DNA-based storage in our homes or bodies in the next decade or two.

Way Out of these Threats:

In conclusion, DNA-based storage is just another data medium. To secure the data stored there, we can use the same set of principles for storing data in hard drives. We could use strong encryption, excellent authentication, and a sound policy to store your data on a digital device or in paper documents.