Shaury Nash / Flickr

Researchers at the University of Washington encoded malware in DNA and used it to infiltrate a computer system. The demonstration exposed vulnerabilities in the process of DNA sequencing, which is increasingly being used by consumers and patients, and adds to the list of cybersecurity challenges facing the health care system.

  • What they did: When DNA is sequenced, the four molecules that make up genetic code (A, C, T and G, for short) are translated to the 0s and 1s that computers use to store information and execute commands. Computer scientists synthesized DNA that, in the process of being sequenced and analyzed, created a file that allowed them access to the computer performing the DNA analysis.
  • Yes, but... The researchers deliberately put a vulnerability in the sequencing software in order to access it. "Their exploit is basically unrealistic," programmer Yaniv Erlich told Technology Review. Still, they demonstrated a DNA-based attack is theoretically possible.
  • The threat: Minimal as of now, say the researchers. DNA sequencing continues to fall in cost and become more common in health care. As the Atlantic's Ed Yong puts it: "But with great ubiquity comes great vulnerability."

Bottom line: "We strongly encourage additional research before such adversarial pressure manifests," write the researchers.

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Dozens of Confederate symbols removed in wake of George Floyd's death

A statue of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis lies on the street after protesters pulled it down in Richmond, Virginia, in June. Photo: Parker Michels-Boyce/AFP via Getty Images

59 Confederate symbols have been removed, relocated or renamed since anti-racism protests began over George Floyd's death, a new Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report finds.

Why it matters: That's a marked increase on previous years, per the report, which points out just 16 Confederate monuments were affected in 2019.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 20,532,835 — Total deaths: 747,845— Total recoveries: 12,743,275Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 5,193,266 — Total deaths: 165,934 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says Mnuchin told her White House is "not budging" on stimulus position.
  4. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits.
  5. Public health: America's two-sided COVID-19 response America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  6. Education: New Jersey governor allows schools to reopenGallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.
Updated 1 hour ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours — the largest single-day number since May. French officials said the situation was "clearly worsening," per France 24.

By the numbers: Over 745,600 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and over 20.4 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. Almost 12.7 million have recovered from the virus.