Any sci-fi fans who just read that headline will be disappointed to find out this is not the next film adaptation of a Hugo-winning novel. Instead, it’s the subject of a very different kind of writing: a research paper by a team from . The researchers pondered the idea of inserting malicious code into the nucleotide sequences of bacterial DNA, then investigating whether that code could inject itself into a computer that was analyzing the DNA.

And the answer was yes.

Even someone with just a basic high school biology class level of understanding is probably intrigued, wondering how the researchers got a computer to “read” the code in the first place. Mohit Kumar for TheHackerNews had one of the best everyday-language explanations for the process:

“To create the biological malware, the researchers translated a simple computer program into a short stretch of 176 DNA letters, denoted as A, G, C, and T, each representing a binary pair (A=00, C=01, G=10, T=11). The exploit took advantage of a basic buffer overflow attack, in which a software program executes the malicious command because it falls outside maximum length. The command then contacted a server controlled by the team, from where the researchers took control of a computer in their laboratory they were using to analyse the DNA file.”

And there it is. While this is ominous news to some people, in this instance, the project is a clear demonstration of security researchers trying to stay a step ahead of cyber-based vulnerabilities. There has been no reported threat of this kind, but rather, a what-if scenario based on the sheer capability and creativity of cybercriminals. What this does clearly demonstrate is that the software the powers DNA analysis–something society relies on for a wide variety of scientific and judicial reasons–has not caught up with the anti-virus times.