November 3, 2023 at 10:29 am

Hacker Stole Almost A Million Lines Of DNA Info From 23AndMe From And Tried To Sell It

by Trisha Leigh

Source: iStock

Even though people really love being able to spit in a tube and get a rundown of their genetic ancestry (and even medical history) back in an email, there have been plenty of concerns with these databases from the start.

One of them – that people could steal the genetic data and sell it or use it for nefarious purposes – seems to have come to pass.

23andMe has acknowledged that a data breach has led to its customers’ genetic information being available online.

Source: iStock

This happened after a hacker that remains unidentified posted in a data-selling forum, claiming they had close to a million lines of DNA information to offload.

A darker aspect?

The hacker seems to be interested specifically in selling data on “notable public figures” with Jewish ancestry.

“On offer are DNA profiles of millions, ranging from the world’s top business magnates to dynasties often whispered about in conspiracy theories. Each set of data also comes with corresponding email addresses.”

Source: iStock

23andMe says it’s investigating the incident, admitting it involved “customer profile information” and bad actors through the DNA Relatives feature. They did not describe the data or state how much was stolen.

This happened before, back in 2018, at the same company. That time, hackers accessed 92 million accounts but resulted in the theft of email addresses and passwords, but not genetic information directly.

That hack, and this one, obviously is a huge blow to these companies asking people to trust them with their genetic and medical histories, no questions asked.

Source: iStock

Millions of people still use the service, but it’s easy to believe that those who are part of marginalized and endangered groups will shy away from the practice.

And who would blame them?