Cybersecurity of Genomic Data

The advent of low-cost genomic sequencing technologies has ushered in an era where it is now possible to sequence and analyze an entire genome quickly and affordably. The vast amounts of genomic data collected have helped fuel our nation’s economic and health leadership posture; however, this information may not be protected with sufficient rigor.

Genomic cybersecurity guidance can aid organizations by 1) protecting them against data misuse which could harm individuals, companies, and nations and 2) enabling secure collaborative innovations.

Status: Defining Scope

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) is seeking to identify genomic data cybersecurity and privacy concerns and develop guidance to address these challenges. The goal of this project is to identify what is unique about this type of data, understand the most common cybersecurity challenges, and provide guidance around security and privacy best practices for genomic data. The NCCoE is now engaging with genomic, cybersecurity, and privacy subject matter experts in academia, industry, and government to gather their insights. Their perspectives, coupled with current NIST guidance on cybersecurity and privacy, will allow NIST to create simulated environments from which to create effective guidance that protects data and enables innovation.

Losing your DNA is not like losing a credit card.  You can order a new credit card, but you cannot replace your DNA.  The loss of your DNA not only affects you, but your relatives and, potentially, generations to come.

(source: The National Counterintelligence and Security Center)