Why is a Data Breach at a DNA Test Company Such a Problem

Data breaches are becoming more common, but what happens if a DNA testing company have their data breached? Here are some surprising potential consequences…

Data breaches from DNA test companies might not seem like a massive issue at first glance. Simply pay off the ransom or secure the details and you’re good to go, right?

Wrong. In fact, there are various potential consequences of this sort of sensitive data being leaked to the public. There are even some much more sinister consequences of this.

In this article, we hope to reveal the main ways in which a data breach at a DNA testing company could affect the victims. Take a look…

Access to Customer Information

First and foremost, DNA test companies require various pieces of customer information to work effectively. These include full names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and credit card details.

Just like a data breach in any company, getting hold of this sort of information can be severe. Even the smallest amount of information can lead to identity theft or fraud. It can also lead to the receipt of various scamming and phishing emails and phone calls.

These invasions of privacy are likely to continue indefinitely, leaving the victim open to further risk of a breach.

Exposing Potential Passwords

Another potential risk of a breach of DNA test data is the problem of passwords and security questions being leaked.

For example, have you ever used your mum’s maiden name as a security question for a credit card? Well, DNA test companies have all this information, meaning a breach could expose it all to potential criminals. In future, this could lead you to being hacked and having finances stolen.

Outing Family Secrets

One massive issue with a breach of DNA data is that it may lead to secret information becoming part of the public domain. For example, if it’s discovered that your father isn’t really your father and you’ve decided to keep this to yourself, having this information accessed can lead to major privacy concerns. Ultimately, this could lead to the breakdown of family trust, divorce, and much more.

Uniting Previously Anonymous Sperm Donors with Their Biological Children

DNA testing can provide people with information regarding their ancestor’s DNA even if these ancestors are not known to you in person. These people are kept anonymous, however, if a breach occurs, this data might become known.

For sperm donors who donated in good faith, this might be a complete nightmare. Although this might sound like a brilliant consequence of a breach, it could lead to the exposure of their identity which they otherwise may have wanted to keep secret.

Revealing Data to the FBI

Even without a breach, it’s alleged that DNA test companies like 23andMe are sharing information with the FBI. According to the Guardian, “Pentagon leadership has encouraged military personnel not to take 23andMe tests due to privacy concerns.”

This is because a breach of data could mean that information about family could be revealed for blackmail purposes. It essentially puts more lives in danger than is necessary.

Emotional Consequences of a DNA Test Company Data Breach

Although there are plenty of practical consequences that come from a breach of anyone’s data, we often forget about the emotional turmoil this can cause. Having one’s personal information stolen is extremely stressful, as the individual often has to deal with the immediate consequences of it.

For starters, they may need to change their information in a variety of places in order to protect their identity and money. This might include email addresses and credit card details, and in some extreme cases they may even need to move house.

To add to this, the person will never quite know how much damage has been done or could be done in future. This leaves the individual feeling stressed for their future, and uncertain about what consequences may reveal themselves further down the line.

So, the immediate stress of the breach, alongside the lingering threat of later fallback, are bound to mount up and cause a lot of mental health issues.

Genetic Discrimination

According to The Verge, this data could even be used to discriminate against people based on their genetic make-up. For example, DNA tests show if someone is genetically inclined towards a certain illness. This could lead to the denial of mortgages and increased insurance costs based on this information.

Future Uses

Although it might seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, we can’t forget about the potential uses of peoples’ DNA in the future. With this sort of data being leaked to large corporations and criminals, who knows how it could used in a world where AI is becoming the new norm. We simply don’t know how it could be used against people in the next few decades.

It’s a Permanent Problem

Finally, DNA leaks are arguably a much bigger problem than the leakage of personal data. Email addresses and phone numbers can be changed – albeit it is a faff – but DNA can’t. The exposure of this information is a permanent issue that can’t be deleted.

Will You Send Your Data to DNA Testing Companies?

DNA tests might seem like a fun and exciting past-time, and they certainly are. Who doesn’t want to learn the history of their ancestors from centuries gone by?

However, as you can see, there are various risks out there that you should be aware of before participating. Although a data breach might seem like one simple risk, it can lead to a variety of potential consequences, as we’ve seen. This article lists just a handful of these potential concerns.

Have you used a DNA testing company and have had your data breached from this? Be sure to leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments down below.

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