Biological Data: Can Foreign-Sponsored Hackers Steal Patient DNA Information?

Imagine for a moment that a criminal using nefarious means was able to steal your DNA information. Unlike having your credit card or pin numbers stolen, both of which can be changed, you cannot change your DNA.

Why should I think about this? You're wondering. Point A, what would anyone want with my DNA information, and Point B, this isn't a science fiction dystopian epic. That's true, this isn't a story, this is real life.

A federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity with reporters shared he's concerned that "American pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare sector are not doing enough to secure biological data, particularly patient DNA information." With U.S. pharmaceutical companies working with firms out of the country, the official said that "the U.S. government is concerned that foreign governments could be working with [said foreign] firms to secretly amass enormous data sets of American DNA and health information."

The healthcare system is already the top most targeted industry by cybercriminals who are looking to loot highly-sensitive information. In sharing pertinent medical and DNA information with foreign firms, pharmaceutical companies are making it easier for cybercriminals to corrupt the system. Without a medical cybersecurity plan, your DNA biological profile could be used by foreign governments for their own ulterior motives.

The law enforcement official continued: "If you are a victim of identity theft, you can change your PIN numbers and identity cards. But in the very near future if your health information or DNA sequence is taken-once it's gone, it's gone. There is nothing to make an individual whole."

There are two reasons the U.S. government is alarmed by American pharmaceutical companies:

  • Foreign DNA sequencing factories used by American pharmaceuticals could be secretly working with their governments to craft a pharmaceutical drug that would disrupt the economic standing of American pharmaceuticals and the stability of the American economy.
  • Foreign governments could use the intel they have gathered to create biological weapons that would have catastrophic consequences on the U.S. population.
  • Here's a third reason to be nervous:
  • Foreign DNA sequencing centers do not have the same cybersecurity practices as American pharmaceutical companies. This means that even if these centers are not sharing their findings with their governments, the differences in cybersecurity protocol between the firms could lead to a calamitous cyberattack.

If a hostile foreign government were able to gain access to the American public's biological data, it could be used not for profit, but for pain.

The United States has already been faced with a foreign government hacking into its systems and implementing strategic data leaks, with the United States presidential election being the most well publicized. Imagine if the same foreign power or another were able to get their hands on American biological data; what would that mean for the U.S. public?

Medical cybersecurity should be a top priority for pharmaceutical companies. They are dealing in peoples' lives; without cybersecurity, significant damage can be inflicted.

If you work in the medical field and want to make sure your private practice is covered, learn more about cybersecurity insurance today with CyberPolicy.

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