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Lab instruments may be leaking patient data, study finds

February 26, 2019 / Nathan Eddy

The new report noted the cyber-physical nature of biotechnology workflows has created new security risks, which the research community has mostly neglected. The researchers, including Philip Brisk, a UC Riverside associate professor of computer science, and UC Irvine electrical and computer engineering professor Mohammad Abdullah Al Faruque, recommend labs using DNA synthesizing machines institute security measures. These include strictly controlling access to the machines and removing innocuous-seeming recording devices left nearby, including mobile devices like smartphones. “Any active machine emits a trace of some form: physical residue, electromagnetic radiation, acoustic noise, et cetera,” Brisk said in a statement. “The amount of information in these traces is immense, and we have only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can learn and reverse engineer about the machine that generated them.”