Saturday, December 02, 2023

Why Did the DNA Hack Target Jews?

I’ve never had my DNA traced. I will admit that there were a few times that the thought crossed my mind, but I never went through with it. Firms such as and 23andMe, have grown in popularity and have even been utilized in some police cases. One aspect of using a firm like this that I never even considered was security. Who would hack a person’s DNA, right?  Well someone did, and the question that is being asked is why?

On October 6th, a spokesperson for the Sunnyvale, California 23andMe, confirmed that data from the customer profiles had been stolen and was for sale on a hacker forum. The hack was accomplished using a method known as a credential stuffing attack. In this type of attack, the hackers test usernames and passwords that had been acquired from previous hacks. Which is the reason why it’s always a good idea to change your passwords.

According to 23andMe the genetic information wasn’t taken. However, high level account data was breached, information such as personal data and the clients geographic ancestry breakdown. The hacker or hackers claim to be selling information collected from 999,999 client accounts.

The information is for sale on the dark web under the title of “Ashkenazi DNA Data of Celebrities.” They claim that the information taken includes names, dates of birth, genders, photos, DNA ancestry and lists of living relatives. The seller also boasted that the profile information could be used to target users based on their ethnicity. The hacker uses the name “Golem,” which in Jewish legend is a clay figure brought to life by magic, also claimed the information for sale includes data of high-profile celebrities, “ranging from the world’s top business magnates to dynasties often whispered about in conspiracy theories.”

One of those customers whose information is at risk is South Peninsula resident and retired psychologist Ellen Fox. She used 23andMe in 2019. Fox explained a possible reason for the hack like this:

“Perhaps they, the hackers do it to create chaos and make people remember Nazism or Soviet times, when Jewish people really were in tremendous danger.” “It’s akin to calling in a bomb threat to a synagogue.” Fox, who was in an actual bomb scare at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills last month, went on to say that the cyber-attack reminded her of tactics used to identify and round up Jewish families during the Holocaust.

“I’m under no illusion about privacy protections,” said Fox, who states she changed her passwords after the hack. “It’s open season on any information that we have out there on the internet. But what’s more concerning is how hackers or pranksters of all kinds are using these tactics to terrorize the community.”

Doug Sinton is a Palo Alto resident and a former San Jose State professor whose son and several of his friends used 23andMe. “There’s potential for all kinds of sinister outcomes. It’s essentially how Hitler was able to target so many people. Who knows what someone with malintent would do if they were to get their hands on that data.”

In the 2001 book by Edwin Black, titled “IBM and the Holocaust,” there is documentation that the Third Reich relied on IBM’s pre-computer punch card and card sorting technology, which was used in Germany for census and various registration procedures, to help locate and then murder hundreds of thousands of Germany’s Jews.

Last week NBC News verified that the information of two 23andMe users that were caught up in the hack was authentic. They also viewed the complete data that was for sale.

“It includes their first and last name, sex and 23andMe’s evaluation of where their ancestors came from,” NBC News wrote. The report went on to say that. “most of the people on it aren’t famous, and it appears to have been sorted to only include people with Ashkenazi heritage.”

Over the last decade here in the U.S. the number of antisemitic incidents rose almost 500 percent, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). This includes harassment, vandalism, and assaults. The ADL reported a 41 percent increase in antisemitic activities on college and university campuses in 2022 as well as a shocking 49 percent increase at K-12 schools.

We all know that the education system in our country has deteriorated from actual teaching to indoctrination. Somewhere along the line along with the gender lies being taught as well as the falsehood of white supremacy, antisemitism has become a sub trait of those teachings.

What can be done with this data in the wrong hands, I have no idea. Yet, someone or some group hacked it for a reason. We can only pray that their reasoning turns out to be wrong. Still, we also have to confront and acknowledge that the purpose of their intent, fruitful or not, was sinister in nature.