Along with co-authors from Virginia Tech and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we discuss two major kinds of threats: sabotaging the machines biologists rely on and creating dangerous biological materials.
Computer viruses affecting the physical world
In 2010, a nuclear plant in Iran experienced mysterious equipment failures. Months later, a security firm was called in to troubleshoot an apparently unrelated problem. They found a malicious computer virus. The virus, called Stuxnet, was telling the equipment to vibrate. The malfunction shut down a third of the plant’s equipment, stunting development of the Iranian nuclear program.
Unlike most viruses, Stuxnet didn’t target only computers. It attacked equipment controlled by computers.