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Brainstorm Health: HIV Data Leak, Global Syndemic, Insys Founder Trial

January 28, 2019, 11:10 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

One of this year’s biggest health data breaches was reportedly linked to an American citizen—and didn’t even occur in this country, according to Bloomberg.

More than 14,000 people with HIV, and 2,400 of their contacts, were reportedly “illegally disclosed online” in Singapore as part of a cyber attack the health ministry says was perpetrated by U.S. citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez.

“While access to the confidential information has been disabled, it is still in the possession of the unauthorized person, and could still be publicly disclosed in the future,” the Singaporean health ministry said in a statement.

One of the most troubling aspects of this particular attack is the extent of its maliciousness. Farrera Brochez, a convicted felon who was deported from Singapore, likely understood the consequences of revealing patients’ HIV statuses in a conservative region.

While this particular crime took place thousands of miles away, the reality of digital delinquency has no borders. And, as we’ve covered ad nauseum in this space, health care is one of the most tantalizing targets for cyber criminals.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


DNA tests and their discontents. Vox is out with an excellent explainer on DNA ancestry tests—and why their results can differ so much from one company to another. The story is worth reading in full, but a single sentence breakdown comes down to: Genomics are imperfect, and the algorithms that work behind the scenes to create genetic reports are very much a work-in-progress. (Vox)


Insys founder Kapoor faces a reckoning. The billionaire founder of Insys Therapeutics is formally in trial now, accused of illicit marketing schemes that involved bribing doctors to prescribe the highly addictive opioid painkiller fentanyl. John Kapoor has adamantly denied those allegations and asserted through his attorneys on Monday that underlings were to blame for the alleged racketeering scheme. (Bloomberg)


A global 'syndemic.' What's in a "syndemic"? Nothing good, it turns out. A new study published in the journal Lancet explains the term as a combination of obesity, climate change, and undernutrition. And it leaves the global community with quite a challenge: "The Commission urges a radical rethink of business models, food systems, civil society involvement, and national and international governance to address The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change. A holistic effort to reorient human systems to achieve better human and planetary health is our most important and urgent challenge." (The Lancet)


Who Should Govern Your Data? Inside the Privacy Debate in Davosby Robert Hackett

Court's Biometrics Ruling Poses Billion Dollar Risk to Facebook, Googleby Jeff John Roberts

Most Keyless Cars Are Easy to Steal Using Cheap Equipment, Consumer Advocates Warnby David Meyer

raceAhead: Holocaust Remembrance Dayby Ellen McGirt

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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