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Is DNA The Future Of Data Storage?

Is DNA The Future Of Data Storage?

Remember when our desktops worked solely from the use of floppy disks? We couldn’t imagine ever needing more storage.

How things change.

Back in 2015, Cisco Systems estimated by the year 2020, we would have 50 billion connected devices generating 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes of data every year.

If anything, those estimates might be low. Every day we seem to speed things up, find new ways to use technology, and discover better ways to bring it into our lives. But with every program we create, the need for storage increases right along with it. And that’s been one of the greatest challenges for the tech world.

That has some scientists looking towards DNA.

At its most basic level, DNA is a biological storage device that holds and preserves genetic data. Digital data is made up of 0s and 1s. DNA is made up of 4 letters - A, C, G, and T - which are the chemicals Adenine, Cytonine, Guanine, and Thymine. The digital code of 0s and 1s is transferred to the letters, where 00 becomes A, 01 becomes G, 10 becomes C, and 11 becomes T. These sequences are synthesized into the DNA strands for storage. When the data is retrieved, the sequencing is reversed.

The obvious advantage of DNA storage is size. In theory, every bit of data ever recorded could be contained in about the size and weight container of a couple of pickup trucks.

The other advantage is this data storage option can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place. We’re still finding DNA from wooly mammoths and experimenting with outcomes. So the thought of being able to store this much data in this fashion is an exciting advancement.

But of course, with every success, there also comes risk. With that much information on a strand of DNA, hackers also have to be looking for a way to use that to their advantage. And it’s possible. If someone had malicious intent, they could insert malware in the DNA sample to gain an in into the data source. And because of how much data a DNA strand can hold, the implications can be far-reaching.

Yes, the future of technology is exciting. No matter how you use it, no matter how you store it, the best offense is a good defense. No matter how you are currently holding and accessing data, it is better to consider security threats early, since security issues are much easier to fix before any real problems manifest.

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