The biotech industry is being urged to get up-to-speed with the risks posed by cyberbiosecurity threats.

Professor Jean Peccoud, from Colorado State University’s (CSU) Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is the lead author of a new paper released this week calling on all stakeholders involved in the industry to be aware of the challenges created by the digital age.

“In the past, most biosecurity and biosafety policies were based on sample containment. Now, it’s so easy to read DNA sequences, for example, or to make DNA molecules out of sequences publicly available from bioinformatics databases. Most projects have a cyber dimension, and that introduces a new category of risk,” said Peccoud.

Issues like malware viruses being encoded in to DNA sequences, or biological attacks generated using publicly available data, are some of the challenges highlighted in the report.

 “Once individuals in a community are aware of cyberbiosecurity risks, they can begin to implement safeguards within their own work environments, and work with regulators to develop policies to prevent cyberbiosecurity breaches,” the authors of the report write.