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The field of biology has become increasingly digitized and the challenge of protecting and securing biological systems requires an understanding of unique biologic information. Synthetic biology facilities are capable of transforming data from computational systems into biological material. Strong market drivers are pushing industry to develop increasingly automated capabilities to carry out operations. Without understanding the interactions of the dozens to hundreds of pieces of software and hardware, it is impossible to guarantee that bad actors have not attacked operations, verification or validation. Genomic systems process data that, once compromised, are irrecoverable. The field of genomics has produced 10s of thousands of pieces of software, all designed to perform specific tasks and very few have had even a rudimentary security assessment.

Technology Advancement

Sandia is leveraging its large-scale simulation and assessment platform Emulytics™ to model real genomic and synthetic biology facilities. By directly engaging with industry, Sandia has been able to deploy its Emulytics™ platform to model the networks, software, simulated hardware and hardware-in-the-loop at at-scale facilities. This has allowed us to discover emergent vulnerabilities in genomic facilities and study the device and software interactions in synthetic biology systems.


As genomics and synthetic biology become increasingly deployed in operational environments and more routine in healthcare and the production of high value chemicals, it is essential that we understand the cybersecurity risks in these systems. Modeling these facilities will help us understand the realistic threat surface and the areas where biology and automation play a unique role.

Digital Biosecurity - Cybersecure Synthetic Biology and Genomic Systems

Sandia National Laboratories
Publication Date
Jan 1, 2020
Agreement Type