Team:Groningen/Tour

CryptoGE®M
Team
Project
Biology
Computing
Human Practice
Acknowledgements

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Tour

We want to combine computer science and biology to create a hackproof encryption system, CryptoGErM. The purpose of CryptoGErM is to create a system that allows authorized users to access data like messages, files or passwords, only when they use the right biological and digital keys. Therefore if someone intercepts our system he/she is not able to obtain the information because he/she is lacking the required keys. Without the keys it is impossible to read the encrypted message. While current encryption methods only use digital keys, we want to include a biological key as well to enhance the security. Therefore CryptoGErM is a bio encryption system. The system consists of the following 6 steps. Think of a message and we can start!

Encryption

At this moment we have your message in plain text form and totally unprotected. We are going to encrypt it digitally. First a short introduction to encryption or cryptography: This term means the encoding of a message so only an authorized person can read it. The plain text is being converted to cipher text using an encryption algorithm. In this state the message cannot be read. The algorithm requires a key for the encryption process. This key can be a word just like a password. In theory it is possible to decrypt the message without the key but a lot of computing power, knowledge and resources are required so practical it is almost impossible. With the key the message can be easily decrypted. This makes the key the sensitive part, which has to reach the receiver without being intercepted. The key itself is not encrypted.

Conversion

You chose a message you would like to secure and created a digital key to encrypt it. In order to apply our encryption algorithm the message as well as the key has to be converted to binary string. Therefore text is converted to ASCII code, which gives every letter a number. In the next conversion step these numbers are converted to binary code. In that state the encryption algorithm is applied. The message is now cipher text but the digital key remains unprotected. Therefore it is converted to DNA code to be integrated into Bacillus subtilis to be protected by the biological key. We are also converting the encrypted message to DNA sequence because storing information in DNA has many advantages. These two DNA sequences can be easily synthesized. Let's synthesize the DNA and integrate it into the genome of Bacillus subtilis.

Integration

Now you have your message as a DNA sequence . Where would be a good place to store this sequence? Hmmmm... What about Bacillus subtilis? This bacterium can take good care of our key and message. It can naturally take up these DNA sequences to its genome. On top of that it can form spores and those are super resistant. They will keep the key and message safe from the environmental influences.

Transmission

Spores are stable at room temperature and do not need any nutrients. They are fine to stay in a tube for weeks, therefore there will enough time for them to travel to any spot on the Earth. They are also very small and you cannot see them by eye. So who would suspect you are sending a highly secure message in this empty seeming tube. But let’s send the sensitive key first and make sure your receiver got it before you send the valuable message.

Treatment

Your receiver obtained your key spores. It is time for the receiver to grow the spores and get the final key DNA sequence. For him, the receiver, it would be really easy, however for someone who is not familiar with this system, it will not be easy at all. First the biological lock has to be opened. You and your receiver agreed on a biological key beforehand. This biological lock comprises the proper germination conditions for the key spores. A wrong treatment will cause the loss of the desired DNA sequence and therefore the message cannot be read anymore. Only with the biological key, the right treatment of the spores, the DNA of the Bacillus subtilis culture can be harvested and the genome will be sequenced. Congratulations! The biological lock has been unlocked! Now just one final step has to be done to get the DNA key sequence.

Decoding

You are almost there. Your receiver can let you know that he or she successfully obtained the digital key from the DNA sequence stored in the Bacillus subtilis spores. Now you can send the encrypted message either in spores as well or digitally because the message is secured by encryption. Finally, when your receiver has everything he needs, he can decrypt the message with the key in our decryption program. Congratulations, you just used the CryptoGErM system to send a super secure message.

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