Breach at DNA-test firm Veritas exposed customer information

The DNA-testing firm Veritas Genetics experienced a security breach that included customer information, the startup said.

Veritas, which sells whole-genome sequencing for $599, said it became aware that a customer-facing portal had been “recently” accessed by an unauthorized user. The company said that the portal didn’t contain genetic data, DNA-test results or health records.

“The security and privacy of customer information is a top priority, and we have security processes and procedures in place as part of this commitment, including segregating and securing genomic data on separate systems,” Danvers, Mass.-based Veritas said in a written statement.

Veritas markets itself as among the most scientifically sophisticated of the companies that have sprung up in recent years to sell DNA tests to consumers. Unlike 23andMe and others that analyze only a small fraction of a person’s DNA, Veritas sequences all 6.4 billion letters of a genome. The firm promises insights into hundreds of diseases and conditions and genetic risks that might pass on to children.

The company declined to elaborate on what information was accessible as a result of the breach, and said that only a handful of customers were potentially affected. Veritas said that once it learned of the unauthorized access to its customer-facing system, it fixed the issue and launched an investigation, contacting external cybersecurity experts.

breached bank.jpg

“Our forensic investigation is ongoing, and we will notify any potentially impacted individual as appropriate under applicable law,” the company said. A mix of state and federal laws govern the privacy of customer and health data, and can require companies to notify people if their data have been exposed.

It didn’t say when exactly it became aware of the breach or how long the system had been exposed.

Veritas in July said that it had sequenced 5,000 genomes, with a goal of sequencing more than 150,000 in 2021. The company has raised more than $50 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase.

As genetic testing has grown in popularity, so too have concerns about privacy. Whole genome sequencing is an expensive, niche product, but cheaper genotyping tests have surged in popularity. More than 25 million people have tested with 23andMe and Ancestry.com.