Finding data in DNA: Computer forensic investigations of living organisms

Marc B. Beck, University of Louisville
Eric C. Rouchka, University of Louisville
Roman. V. Yampolskiy, University of Louisville


Recent advances in genetic engineering have allowed the insertion of artificial DNA strands into the living cells of organisms. Several methods have been developed to insert information into a DNA sequence for the purpose of data storage, watermarking, or communication of secret messages. The ability to detect, extract, and decode messages from DNA is important for forensic data collection and for data security. We have developed a software toolkit that detects the presence of a hidden message within a DNA sequence, and deciphers that message. In order to decode a message we are modifying several existing cryptanalysis tools that have been developed for solving simple substitution ciphers and compare their performance.