GenomeWeb carry coverage of the work by Battelle Memorial Institute, Harvard University, Virginia Tech, and Ginkgo Bioworks who are all developing methods to detect sequences that could “be put to nefarious use”.

This suggests a couple of things to me. First and foremost are these companies developing algorithms that will scan our oligo orders without consent? I know PhD students and post-docs who don’t even want the people in their group to know what they’ve ordered (paranoia I know but in highly competitive groups a worryingly high level of paranoia can exist!)

Secondly are biohacking types who can design and assemble a nefarious sequence or genome really not clever enough to place orders via several providers under different names?


Can you come up with nefarious uses of genomics, or genome data? I had a go at this with what I termed “Dr Evil’s DNA disguise” (see here and here). This could easily be applied to whole exome, or even, amplification to hide a genome-wide set of SNPs. Ultimately if people want to do something bad with technology we need to fight back with counter-technology.

Post you ideas on Twitter by using the link above.