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'White hat' hacker discovers names of 'anonymous' volunteers of genome study in security drill
From: InfoSec News <alerts () infosecnews org>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2013 08:49:53 -0600 (CST)


The Independent
17 JANUARY 2013

A former "white hat" hacker hired by banks to test their computer security has been able to discover the names of individuals who volunteered to take part in genome studies on the condition of anonymity.

Nearly 50 people who had agreed to have their genomes sequenced and placed on scientific databases provided that their names would not be used were identified by Yaniv Erlich as part of an exercise to test the vulnerability of personal data held in DNA libraries.

The revelation will prove embarrassing for organisations who have promoted the widespread use of genome sequencing in medical research. Last month, the Government announced a plan to sequence the genomes of 100,000 Britons to boost the discovery of new drugs and treatments.

Dr Erlich used computer algorithms to link DNA sequences, particularly of the male Y chromosome, with surnames and other personal data held on genealogy databases as part of a deliberate attempt to test the security of the “anonymised” information held on genome databases.


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