How that DNA analysis could have leaked your medical data
When we’re trying to find the best VPN for iPhone or the best data protection for our computers, it’s easy to forget that we should also be protecting our medical data. Lately we’ve left the guardianship of personal health information (PHI) in the hands of healthcare providers, assuming their security protocols will protect our data. When things like your social security number seem like “no-brainers” to keep secure – what about your DNA?
The recent popularity surge in DNA sites that promote the ability to identify your ancestry based on your genetic makeup create security vulnerabilities for users and their genetic data. Many of these DNA sites have very loose policies when it comes to how they protect and share your personal information, including your DNA. The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating DNA sites to determine how they are handling the genetic and personal information of their users because of recent missteps with information being freely shared with third-parties, including law enforcement. One firm, FamilyTreeDNA, recently admitted to sharing its customers’ genetic profiles with the FBI to help profile potential criminals for unsolved violent crimes.
Good cyber hygiene includes protecting your digital assets. When you consider the possibility of your DNA being compromised in a hack (or shared against your will by one of these sites), it’s crucial to know what’s happening before using services that store your genetic data. While it can be fun to trace your lineage and find long-lost relatives, thoroughly read through their privacy and consumer data handling policies first. It’s also important to be thinking about how your most personal data—your genetic makeup—could be used retroactively in the future by industries and companies we don’t know about yet.
We’re always protecting your devices and our on-call cybersecurity concierge service can help protect your data now, while giving you data privacy strategies for the future.