December 2, 2023

The lawyer basic of Connecticut is questioning whether or not genetic testing large 23andMe violated knowledge privateness legal guidelines after hackers tried to promote the data of thousands and thousands of 23andMe customers on a cybercrime discussion board final month.

The corporate has been embroiled in controversy because the leaks got here to mild. A researcher downloaded two recordsdata from the discussion board publish and instructed Recorded Future Information that one apparently had info on 1 million 23andMe customers of Ashkenazi heritage whereas one other file included knowledge on greater than 300,000 customers of Chinese language heritage.

TechCrunch reported on a second cybercrime discussion board posting weeks later that included info on 4 million customers.

23andMe confirmed on October 9 {that a} knowledge scraping incident resulted in hackers having access to buyer profile info that they opted into sharing by way of their DNA Family function. The corporate mentioned it believes the info “was compiled from particular person 23andMe.com accounts with out the account customers’ authorization.”

This resulted within the compilation and publicity of peoples’ names, intercourse, date of beginning, geographical location, and genetic ancestry outcomes. By October 20, the corporate mentioned it “briefly disabled some options throughout the DNA Family instrument as a further precaution to guard the privateness of our prospects.”

This week, Connecticut Lawyer Basic Willaim Tong despatched a letter to the corporate demanding solutions to a listing of questions in regards to the breach, expressing concern about how the problem was being dealt with.

Tong was particularly involved in regards to the knowledge from the primary breach, which concerned info on people with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and Chinese language ancestry.

“The elevated frequency of antisemitic and anti-Asian rhetoric and violence in recent times signifies that this can be a very harmful time for such focused info to be launched to the general public,” Tong mentioned.

The Connecticut Lawyer Basic mentioned 23andMe has not submitted a breach notification to the state as required by regulation inside 60 days of a breach.

Tong acknowledged 23andMe’s assertion that the breach was the results of a credential stuffing assault — the place credentials obtained from a knowledge breach on one service are used to try to log in to a different unrelated service — however mentioned the state’s breach notification statute “expressly embrace electronic mail handle and password info.”

Tong questioned whether or not 23andMe was violating the Connecticut Knowledge Privateness Act, a lately instituted regulation that imposes privateness and knowledge safety obligations on firms working within the state.

“23andMe is within the enterprise of amassing and analyzing probably the most delicate and irreplaceable details about people, their genetic code,” he defined.

“This incident raises questions in regards to the processes utilized by 23andMe to acquire consent from customers, in addition to the measures taken by 23andMe to guard the confidentiality of delicate private info.”

The letter contains 14 questions in regards to the specifics of these affected by the breach in addition to any measures the corporate has in place to guard in opposition to these sorts of assaults.

The corporate has till November 13, 2023 to reply to the letter. 23andMe didn’t reply to requests for remark in regards to the letter.

The breach set off a wave of concern, notably amongst these of Ashkenazi heritage, amidst an increase in anti-semitism and hate speech towards these of the Jewish religion. Since publishing a narrative in regards to the difficulty on October 6, a number of folks have contacted Recorded Future Information expressing fear about what the leaked knowledge could result in.

One researcher who spoke to Recorded Future Information was initially alarmed as a result of he discovered the data on his spouse and her relations within the first batch of stolen knowledge being supplied on the market on BreachForums.

“23andme appears to suppose this isn’t a giant deal. They maintain telling me that if I don’t need this data to be shared, I mustn’t decide into the DNA relations function,” he mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity out of worry his household can be recognized by hackers.

“However that’s dismissing the significance of this knowledge which ought to solely be viewable to DNA relations, not the general public. And the truth that somebody was capable of scrape this knowledge from 1.3 million customers is regarding. The hacker allegedly has extra knowledge that they haven’t launched but.”

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a Breaking Information Reporter at Recorded Future Information. Jonathan has labored throughout the globe as a journalist since 2014. Earlier than shifting again to New York Metropolis, he labored for information retailers in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He beforehand lined cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.