Why You Should Be Scared of Someone Stealing Your Genome

Michael White
June 3, 2013
Pacific Standard

Genome theft is already a possibility, and that problem looks like it’s only going to grow.

Most of us occasionally worry that some online mishap, like a misreading of Facebook’s latest privacy policy, will disclose to the world things we’d rather keep private: pictures unlikely to amuse your employer, rants about your neighbor’s hygiene habits, or harmless-but-personal stuff that you only want to share with close friends. If the threat of losing your online privacy has you worried, future threats to the privacy of your genome should have you absolutely freaked out. By means of your DNA, nature provides you with a security flaw that makes Microsoft Windows look like Fort Knox.

Personal genetic information is currently a subject of intense scientific interest, because one of the major goals of today’s biomedical science is to figure out how we can use information in your DNA to customize your medical care. Your individual genome has a strong influence on how your body responds to efforts to prevent and treat disease, and in the coming years, doctors will begin to routinely use genetic information in patient care. As the practice of genetic medicine becomes increasingly common, more and more of us will use genetic testing services, which means that more and more of us will have our genetic data stored in some sort of database. This will put some very personal information at risk, because, as Visa will tell you, databases can be hacked.

Story continues here: psmag.com

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