Security in Personal Genomics: Lest We Forget

Gene Tsudik
University of California, Irvine (UCI)

Genomic privacy has attracted much attention from the research community, mainly since its risks are unique and breaches can lead to terrifying leakage of most personal and sensitive information. The much less explored topic of genomic security needs to mitigate threats of the digitized genome being altered by its owner or an outside party, which can have dire consequences, especially, in medical or legal settings. At the same time, many anticipated genomic applications (with varying degrees of trust) require only small amounts of genomic data. Supporting such applications requires a careful balance between security and privacy. Furthermore, genome’s size raises performance concerns.
We argue that genomic security must be taken seriously and explored as a research topic in its own right. To this end, we discuss the problem space, identify the stakeholders, discuss assumptions about them, and outline several simple approaches based on common cryptographic techniques, including signature variants and authenticated data structures. We also present some extensions and identify opportunities for future research. The main goal of this work is to highlight the importance of genomic security as a research topic in its own right.

Presentation (PDF File)

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