In 2007, DNA pioneer James Watson became the first person to have his entire genome sequencedmaking all of his 6 billion base pairs publicly available for research. Well, almost all of them. He left one spot blank, on the long arm of chromosome 19, where a gene called APOE lives. Certain variations in APOE increase your chances of developing Alzheimers, and Watson wanted to keep that information private.
Except it wasnt. Researchers quickly pointed out you could predict Watsons APOE variant based on signatures in the surrounding DNA. They didnt actually do it, but database managers wasted no time in redacting another two million base pairs surrounding the APOE gene.
This is the dilemma at the heart of precision medicine: It requires people to give up some of their privacy in service of the greater scientific good. To completely eliminate the risk of outing an individual based on their DNA records, youd have to strip it of the same identifying details that make it scientifically useful. But now, computer scientists and mathematicians are working toward an alternative solution. Instead of stripping genomic data, theyre encrypting it.
Gill Bejerano leads a developmental biology lab at Stanford that investigates the genetic roots of human disease. In 2013, when he realized he needed more genomic data, his lab joined Stanford Hospitals Pediatrics Departmentan arduous process that required extensive vetting and training of all his staff and equipment. This is how most institutions solve the privacy perils of data sharing. They limit who can access all the genomes in their possession to a trusted few, and only share obfuscated summary statistics more widely.
So when Bejerano found himself sitting in on a faculty talk given by Dan Boneh, head of the applied cryptography group at Stanford, he was struck with an idea. He scribbled down a mathematical formula for one of the genetic computations he uses often in his work. Afterward, he approached Boneh and showed it to him. Could you compute these outputs without knowing the inputs? he asked. Sure, said Boneh.
Last week, Bejerano and Boneh published a paper in Science that did just that. Using a cryptographic genome cloaking method, the scientists were able to do things like identify responsible mutations in groups of patients with rare diseases and compare groups of patients at two medical centers to find shared mutations associated with shared symptoms, all while keeping 97 percent of each participants unique genetic information completely hidden. They accomplished this by converting variations in each genome into a linear series of values. That allowed them to conduct any analyses they needed while only revealing genes relevant to that particular investigation.
Just like programs have bugs, people have bugs, says Bejerano. Finding disease-causing genetic traits is a lot like spotting flaws in computer code. You have to compare code that works to code that doesnt. But genetic data is much more sensitive, and people (rightly) worry that it might be used against them by insurers, or even stolen by hackers. If a patient held the cryptographic key to their data, they could get a valuable medical diagnosis while not exposing the rest of their genome to outside threats. You can make rules about not discriminating on the basis of genetics, or you can provide technology where you cant discriminate against people even if you wanted to, says Bejerano. Thats a much stronger statement.
The National Institutes of Health have been working toward such a technology since reidentification researchers first began connecting the dots in anonymous genomics data. In 2010, the agency founded a national center for Integrating Data for Analysis, Anonymization and Sharing housed on the campus of UC San Diego. And since 2015, iDash has been funding annual competitions to develop privacy-preserving genomics protocols. Another promising approach iDash has supported is something called fully homomorphic encryption, which allows users to run any computation they want on totally encrypted data without losing years of computing time.
Kristen Lauter, head of cryptography research at Microsoft, focuses on this form of encryption, and her team has taken home the iDash prize two years running. Critically, the method encodes the data in such a way that scientists dont lose the flexibility to perform medically useful genetic tests. Unlike previous encryption schemes, Lauters tool preserves the underlying mathematical structure of the data. That allows computers to do the math that delivers genetic diagnoses, for example, on totally encrypted data. Scientists get a key to decode the final results, but they never see the source.
This is extra important as more and more genetic data moves off local servers and into the cloud. The NIH lets users download human genomic data from its repositories, and in 2014, the agency started letting people store and analyze that data in private or commercial cloud environments. But under NIHs policy, its the scientists using the datanot the cloud service providerresponsible with ensuring its security. Cloud providers can get hacked, or subpoenaed by law enforcement, something researchers have no control over. That is, unless theres a viable encryption for data stored in the cloud.
If we dont think about it now, in five to 10 years a lot peoples genomic information will be used in ways they did not intend, says Lauter. But encryption is a funny technology to work with, she says. One that requires building trust between researchers and consumers. You can propose any crazy encryption you want and say its secure. Why should anyone believe you?
Thats where federal review comes in. In July, Lauters group, along with researchers from IBM and academic institutions around the world launched a process to standardize homomorphic encryption protocols. The National Institute for Standards and Technology will now begin reviewing draft standards and collecting public comments. If all goes well, genomics researchers and privacy advocates might finally have something they can agree on.
Read the original:
To Protect Genetic Privacy, Encrypt Your DNA – WIRED
- Energy-efficient encryption for the internet of things | MIT News - February 16th, 2018
- The Best Encryption Software - TopTenReviews - February 16th, 2018
- File-Based Encryption | Android Open Source Project - February 7th, 2018
- Beyond Encryption | Secure Enterprise email using existing ... - February 1st, 2018
- Azure Search enterprise security: Data encryption and user ... - January 26th, 2018
- Skype finally getting end-to-end encryption | Ars Technica - January 13th, 2018
- FBI chief says phone encryption is a 'major public safety issue' - January 13th, 2018
- Encryption and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) - December 27th, 2017
- Key (cryptography) - Wikipedia - December 21st, 2017
- security - Fundamental difference between Hashing and ... - December 15th, 2017
- What Is Encryption? | Surveillance Self-Defense - December 4th, 2017
- Comodo Disk Encryption Download - softpedia.com - December 1st, 2017
- Encryption - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - November 24th, 2017
- BitLocker Drive Encryption Overview - technet.microsoft.com - November 23rd, 2017
- The Encrypting File System - technet.microsoft.com - November 18th, 2017
- FBI cant break the encryption on Texas shooters smartphone - November 13th, 2017
- DOJ: Strong encryption that we dont have access to is ... - November 13th, 2017
- DOJ Fires Up New War With Apple Over Encryption - November 12th, 2017
- Security Awareness - Encryption | Office of Information ... - October 15th, 2017
- Data Encryption and Decryption (Windows) - October 14th, 2017
- Trumps DOJ tries to rebrand weakened encryption as responsible ... - October 11th, 2017
- How to encrypt (almost) anything | PCWorld - September 22nd, 2017
- Private Internet Access | VPN Encryption - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Substitutes | Privacy | Encryption - September 21st, 2017
- Data Encryption: Hardware & Software Security: Online ... - September 21st, 2017
- How To Enable BitLocker Drive Encryption In Windows 10? - September 21st, 2017
- PGP Encryption Tool - iGolder - September 21st, 2017
- encryption - How to encrypt String in Java - Stack Overflow - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Software Market, Size, Trends and Forecast 2020 - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Definition - Tech Terms - September 20th, 2017
- Why You Should Be Encrypting Your Devices and How to Easily Do It - Gizmodo - September 6th, 2017
- Black Hats, White Hats, and Hard Hats The Need for Encryption in Mining and Resources - Australian Mining - September 6th, 2017
- How can enterprises secure encrypted traffic from cloud applications? - TechTarget - September 6th, 2017
- Encryption Explained - Arizona Daily Wildcat - September 6th, 2017
- News in brief: Call to link encryption to ID; Facebook maps everyone ... - Naked Security - September 2nd, 2017
- 'Independent' gov law reviewer wants users preemptively identified before they're 'allowed' to use encryption - The Register - September 2nd, 2017
- High-Dimensional Quantum Encryption Performed in Real-World ... - Futurism - September 2nd, 2017
- It's Time to Replace Your Encryption-Key Spreadsheet - Data Center Knowledge - September 2nd, 2017
- Legislation to limit smartphone encryption 'may be necessary,' deputy AG Rosenstein says - Washington Times - August 31st, 2017
- Cloud Encryption Market by Component, Service Model, Organization Size, Vertical And Region - Global Forecast to ... - Markets Insider - August 31st, 2017
- Cipher Suites: Ciphers, Algorithms and Negotiating Security Settings - Hashed Out by The SSL Store (registration) (blog) - August 31st, 2017
- Encryption in Office 365 - Office 365 - August 29th, 2017
- Need-to-Know Only: Use Encryption to Make Data Meaningless to ... - Security Intelligence (blog) - August 29th, 2017
- Four strategies to prevent data encryption from hijacking your network - Digital News Asia - August 29th, 2017
- Amber Rudd is wrong - real people do want end-to-end encryption - ITProPortal - August 29th, 2017
- Why encryption is for everyone - IFEX - August 29th, 2017
- 4D quantum encryption successful in first real-world test - New Atlas - New Atlas - August 29th, 2017
- For the First Time Ever, Quantum Communication is Demonstrated in Real-World City Conditions - Futurism - August 26th, 2017
- High-Dimensional Quantum Encryption Takes Place in Real-World ... - Photonics.com - August 26th, 2017
- Hedvig Bakes Encryption into Software-Defined Storage Platform - IT Business Edge (blog) - August 26th, 2017
- Hedvig storage upgrade adds flash tier, encryption options - TechTarget - August 26th, 2017
- How to use EFS encryption to encrypt individual files and folders on Windows 10 - Windows Central - August 26th, 2017
- Cloud Encryption Market Worth 2401.9 Million USD by 2022 - Markets Insider - August 23rd, 2017
- Data Encryption in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online - August 21st, 2017
- Researchers use encryption to keep patients' DNA private - Engadget - August 21st, 2017
- Additional proof that Lancaster County Commissioners should reconsider encrypting police transmissions - LancasterOnline - August 21st, 2017
- iPhone Secure Enclave firmware encryption key leaked - TechTarget - August 21st, 2017
- Encryption, speed push the modern mainframe into the future - TechTarget - August 21st, 2017
- Hardware encryption vs software encryption: the simple guide - Kroll Ontrack UK (press release) (blog) - August 21st, 2017
- Encryption Technology Could Protect the Privacy of Your DNA - Gizmodo - August 21st, 2017
- Beginner's guide to Windows 10 encryption - Windows Central - August 18th, 2017
- Encryption key for iPhone 5s Touch ID exposed, opens door to further research - AppleInsider (press release) (blog) - August 18th, 2017
- How security pros look at encryption backdoors - Help Net Security - August 18th, 2017
- The Laws of Mathematics and the Laws of Nations: The Encryption Debate Revisited - Lawfare (blog) - August 18th, 2017
- 72 percent of security pros say encryption backdoors won't stop terrorism - BetaNews - August 18th, 2017
- Ex-MI5 Boss Evans: Don't Undermine Encryption - Infosecurity Magazine - August 14th, 2017
- Despite end to end encryption, apps like WhatsApp, Messenger are still vulnerable to hacking: Study - Firstpost - August 13th, 2017
- What is Encryption? (with pictures) - wiseGEEK - August 12th, 2017
- Ex-MI5 chief warns against crackdown on encrypted messaging ... - The Guardian - August 12th, 2017
- Former UK security service head says weakening encryption would be too dangerous - 9to5Mac - August 12th, 2017
- News in brief: facial recognition planned for Carnival; spy chief backs encryption; ginger emoji planned - Naked Security - August 12th, 2017
- Avoid getting lost in encryption with these easy steps - We Live Security (blog) - August 12th, 2017
- Here's why IBM Z Mainframe Wants to Encrypt the World - Edgy Labs (blog) - August 10th, 2017
- Symantec Announces Plesk Will Integrate Symantec Encryption Everywhere Security Into Its Website Management ... - Business Wire (press release) - August 10th, 2017
- Australia: Shelve Proposed Law to Weaken Encryption - Human Rights Watch (press release) - August 6th, 2017
- IBM India Helps Create Breakthrough Encryption Technology That's Completely Hacker Proof - Indiatimes.com - August 6th, 2017
- Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull re Encryption and Human Rights - Human Rights Watch (press release) - August 5th, 2017
- Zscaler Finds Hackers Using SSL Encryption in Malware to Hide ... - eWeek - August 5th, 2017
- HBO Hack Highlights Importance of Encryption, Data Governance - eSecurity Planet - August 3rd, 2017
- UK flip-flop on encryption doesn't help anyone - CNET - August 3rd, 2017