DNA testing is all the rage but is it safe? The answer depends on who you define safe. Safety has many different aspects that you could be concerned with.
DNA Testing and Medical Side Effects
Are there any kind of medical effects from taking a home DNA testing kit?
No, because you're taking a sample by spitting in a tube or swabbing your cheek.
If you go to the doctor for specific DNA, they may require a blood sample for that. A police crime lab may gather sames of your hair, skin cells, and blood to create a DNA profile.
However, commercial DNA testing companies have no medical side effects unless you have a problem with spitting or sticking something in your mouth and rubbing it on your cheek.
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How safe is the raw DNA data on a genetic genealogy website?
The safety of your raw DNA data will vary from company to company. During the testing process, we've collected our saliva. The DNA testing companies have turned the samples into a digital bit of information. Our raw DNA data is stored somewhere on a computer server. Eventually, we can access our genetic information through the internet.
At some point, each website will have you create a login and a password. You're the one that affects how safe that information is from just anybody logging into that website. Don't set your password as PASSWORD.
Are Genetic Genealogy Websites Safe From Hackers?
While every genetic genealogy testing company will have different protocols in place, their website may have been or may in the future be hacked.
Can you say any company that is completely safe from hacking?
No! No company can say that. Everything has been hacked in some way. Genetic genealogy testing companies like 23andMe, MyHeritage, Ancestry, and Family Tree DNA, have been or eventually will be hacked.
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What Information Would a Hacker Gather From a Genetic Genealogy Company?
In my personal opinion, DNA data by itself is pretty much worthless.
You might be thinking, "Wait for a second! Why am I spending money on something worthless?"
The power of DNA is in being able to match with other people. There are different ways that you can use raw DNA data to find health and relationship information about somebody. But those require e pretty intensive processes. It would be a lot easier to find that information in another way.
If I was a computer hacker, I would not be targeting DNA database rather than other data such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, emails, and passwords. DNA data just is not that valuable by itself.
DNA Testing is Relatively Safe
I don't think that there are malicious hackers that are targeting DNA databases for the DNA data. They may be targeting genetic genealogy testing companies for credit card data or passwords, but not for the DNA data.
In general, DNA testing is very safe as long as you are putting in a password that is difficult to guess. Then you've really done as much as you can to secure your information.
Don't let safety dissuade you from taking a DNA test. If you have questions about a specific website, then go and take a look at their FAQ sections or contact their customer service to ask about their data security protocols and how your data is protected by them.