Sandia helps safeguard biological data threatened during COVID-19 pandemic

Business collaboration may secure systems from cyberattack
Sandia National Laboratories
12-Oct-2020 2:55 PM EDT, by Sandia National Laboratories

Newswise — A partnership between Sandia National Laboratories and the Boston firm BioBright LLC to improve the security of synthetic biology equipment has become more relevant after the United States and others issued warnings that hackers were using the COVID-19 pandemic to increase their activities.

“In the past decade, genomics and synthetic biology have grown from principally academic pursuits to a major industry,” said computational biology manager Corey Hudson. “This shift paves the way toward rapid production of small molecules on demand, precision healthcare and advanced materials.”

Sandia and BioBright are working to develop better security for this new commercial field. Right now, large amounts of sensitive data about patients’ health and pharmaceutical information are being handled with security models developed two decades ago for academic needs and not industrial risks, Hudson said.

Many of the facilities responsible for ushering in this growth in synthetic biology scaled up from these academic models. This has meant that the digital environment responsible for automating these facilities has not grown with the same sophistication. According to Hudson, the situation potentially leaves open the risk of data theft or targeted attack by hackers to interrupt production of vaccines and therapeutics or the manufacture of controlled, pathogenic or toxic materials.

“Modern synthetic biology and pharmaceutical workflows rely on digital tools. Instruments and software that were designed before security was such an important consideration,” said BioBright CEO Charles Fracchia.

The risk associated with using dated security measures for a modern, automated process is rising in light of current events. On May 5, the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Security Agency and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre issued a joint alert warning that malicious hackers were exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic as part of their attacks.

Sifting through terabytes, seeking security

Earlier work by Hudson and his team focused on identifying, reporting and mitigating vulnerabilities in genomics and genomic operations within synthetic biology.

“You have a genetic sequencer that is producing terabytes of data,” Hudson said. “Those data are being transferred, through a series of software, until you identify the genetic variants. The clinical decisions are made from those results.”

Hudson and his team are collaborating with Fracchia’s team at BioBright, a company that provides secure data collection and analysis to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. They are working to help better secure synthetic biology operations and genomic data across industry, government and academia, protecting America’s bioeconomy and digital infrastructure. Using Emulytics, a research initiative developed at Sandia for evaluating realistic threats against critical systems, the teams are developing countermeasures to the risks.

“We can examine the data and see how to make the entire system safer and more secure,” Hudson said.

The initial work done by Hudson’s team was funded through Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. The collaboration with BioBright is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency through the Safe Genes project.




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 4219
Released: 4-Dec-2020 4:30 PM EST
New review confirms disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Hispanic populations
Oregon Health & Science University

Black and Hispanic populations are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, according to a systematic review published this week.

Newswise: 250647_web.jpg
Released: 4-Dec-2020 4:05 PM EST
For nationalistic regimes, similar COVID-19 policies are the sincerest form of flattery
University of Texas at Arlington

Analysis from a University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor of public policy suggests that nationalistic governments around the globe are more likely to copy other nationalistic governments in responding to the current pandemic.

Released: 4-Dec-2020 3:15 PM EST
New Study Finds Once Hospitalized, Black Patients with COVID-19 Have Lower Risk of Death than White Patients
NYU Langone Health

A team of investigators at NYU Langone Health has found that once hospitalized, Black patients (after controlling for other serious health conditions and neighborhood income) were less likely to have severe illness, die, or be discharged to hospice compared to White patients.

Released: 4-Dec-2020 2:35 PM EST
AANA Commends CDC on Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution to Healthcare Personnel
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) commends the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC's) team of advisors on prioritizing frontline healthcare personnel and residents of long-term facilities for the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Released: 4-Dec-2020 1:50 PM EST
COVID-19 in Victorian schools and childcare mainly driven by community transmission
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Analysis of Victorian data by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute suggests that COVID-19 cases in schools and childcare were mainly driven by community transmission

Released: 4-Dec-2020 12:20 PM EST
Identifying markers of COVID-19 infection using blood tests
University of Seville

Researchers from the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville (IBIS) have presented a study carried out in the Clinical Biochemistry Service of the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital which identifies the values for six biochemical biomarkers that indicate a patient may be infected with SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19).

Released: 4-Dec-2020 12:05 PM EST
Research confirms crucial monitoring assessment is effective for patients with COVID-19
University of Portsmouth

A combined research team from the Universities of Portsmouth and Bournemouth and Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust has shown that an assessment score used to measure a patient's severity of illness can be applied to patients with Covid-19 without modification.

Newswise:Video Embedded flccc-alliance-calls-on-national-health-authorities-to-immediately-review-medical-evidence-showing-the-efficacy-of-ivermectin-for-the-prevention-of-covid-19-and-as-an-early-outpatient-treatment
VIDEO
Released: 4-Dec-2020 12:00 PM EST
FLCCC Alliance Calls on National Health Authorities to Immediately Review Medical Evidence Showing the Efficacy of Ivermectin for the Prevention of COVID-19 and as an Early Outpatient Treatment
Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC Alliance)

“Following the swi. review— and subsequent guidance— by the NIH and theCDC of Ivermectin, we expect that Ivermectin’s widespread, immediate use willallow for a rapid and safe re-opening of businesses and schools across the nation—and quickly reduce the strain on overwhelmed ICUs.” —FLCCC Alliance

Released: 4-Dec-2020 11:50 AM EST
Immunity passports: Ethical conflict and opportunity
University of the Basque Country

Immunity passports are a means of registering whether an individual has developed immunity to COVID-19 and is therefore unlikely to either catch or spread the disease.


Showing results

110 of 4219

close
1.24748