The motivation for this research is the fact that, for a variety of reasons, networks and their existing authentication and confidentiality infrastructure are becoming more vulnerable to attack. The protocols in this research are based upon a security architecture that relies upon codes derived from the processes that regulate gene expression. In vivo, these processes control and regulate transcription of DNA into various forms of RNA, translation of messenger RNA into proteins, and a variety of other pre-and post-transcriptional and translational regulatory processes. They utilize networks of protein and nucleic acid complexes. Through use of information theory, the processes of regulation of gene expression are being adapted to network and information security. The approach can be used in conjunction with legacy security architectures, algorithms, and processes as well as Mobile Ad-hoc Networks (MANET).

MANET authentication via the general transcription machinery specified in a gene transcriptional regulatory network.

The purpose of the invention is to implement a security protocol that requires a cryptanalysis infrastructure not available to most attackers. By using the processes of the regulation of gene expression in conjunction with a genomic and proteomic-based encryption and authentication approach, security is achieved in multiple domains that must be breached simultaneously by an attacker. The protocol allows for utilization of biological genes (biogenes) and cryptographic genes (ciphergenes) to yield ciphertext in the form of cipher-mRNA and cipherproteins. The protocols utilize regulatory networks of proteins and RNA such as the general transcriptional regulatory networks and basal transcriptional complex in coding schemes that adapt those concepts to the system of authentication and confidentiality. The protocols accommodate usage of prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene expression. It allows for incorporation of in vitro and in silico products of gene expression through the concept of a ciphercolony. By expansion of the coding protocols beyond the alphabet of DNA, RNA, and proteins, a rich new set of authentication and confidentiality processes can be achieved. The figure shows an application in which users possessing transcription factor codes and the necessary pre-shared secrets form a MANET. In this case, remote MANET members A, B, D, E, F, and H authenticate candidate member Z by exchanging the transcription factors necessary to activate the ciphergene Z. If Z responds with the proper protein expression code, Z is authenticated. There is a temporal aspect to this form of authentication, as all codes must be responded to within a specified time window.

The innovation includes three levels of encryption and authentication. It can also be utilized in a public key infrastructure by implementation of a Bio- Certificate Authority (Bio-CA) concept. The Bio-CA operates in a domain analogous to a traditional Certificate Authority, except that the Bio-CA certificate requires knowledge of specific patterns of gene expression allocated to a particular user and can function with or without the in vitro biochemical features. Knowledge of a ciphergene alone does not permit derivation of an underlying biogene or vice versa. Local encrypted files are products to be procured from the vendor of this protocol set, and are among the additional intellectual property being developed.

This work was done by Harry C. Shaw of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16545-1.