Covert Communication Via Viral Infection

The following science fiction idea was submitted to SciFi Ideas by Ilan Scheinkman.

DNAViruses have a lot of junk DNA. Why not use it? As DNA modification technology improves, eventually we will reach a point where a government realizes its potential as a means of sending encoded information.

My idea is that a government man-makes a non-spreading “template” virus with a high amount of non-coding and unused DNA. Then, when said government (government here being replaceable with private corporation, single scientist, anti-government militia, etc.) needs to send a covert message, they synthesize a version of the template with an encoded message placed within the virus’s junk DNA.

This method would be almost undetectable as the virus would have no symptoms, not spread out of the host body, and the message would obviously appear to be an ordinary part of the virus to the casual observer. It wouldn’t even be necessary for the messenger to know that he was carrying it. A civilian tourist could be given a “vaccine against infection” before returning to his native country and then given a “toxin screening” upon arrival to decode the message and retrieve the information.

This article was written by Ilan Scheinkman.

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  • Leila O

    I think this is an intelligent idea. However, if this is operated by a single scientist, the matter of somehow inserting the “vaccine” into the civilian could be quite complicated.