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Website security breach exposes 1 million DNA profilesSubmitted: 07/24/2020
Website security breach exposes 1 million DNA profiles
Story By Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - A genealogy website used to catch one of California's most wanted serial killers remained shut down Thursday after a security breach exposed the DNA profiles of more than a million people to law enforcement agencies.

GEDmatch said in a message emailed to members and posted Wednesday on its Facebook page that on Sunday a "sophisticated attack" on their servers through an existing user account made the DNA profiles of its members available for police to search for about three hours.

"We became aware of the situation a short time later and immediately took the site down," GEDmatch said.

GEDmatch briefly resumed but shut down again after it was the target of a second breach on Monday when all user permissions were set to opt-in to law enforcement matching, the company said.

"We can assure you that your DNA information was not compromised, as GEDmatch does not store raw DNA files on the site," the company said. "When you upload your data, the information is encoded and the raw file deleted. This is one of the ways we protect our users' most sensitive information."

The company said it was informed Tuesday that customers of MyHeritage, an Israel-based genealogy website, that are also GEDmatch users were the target of a phishing scam.

The site remained down on Thursday with a message reading "The gedmatch site is down for maintenance. Currently no ETA for availability."

GEDmatch made headlines in 2018 when it helped investigators in California identify Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer. DeAngelo is suspected of being the sadistic attacker who killed 13 people and raped nearly 50 women in California during the '70s and '80s.

DeAngelo last month pled guilty to dozens of crimes in return for being spared the death penalty.

As of 2019, than 1.2 million people have used GEDmatch's free service to upload data profiles from different DNA testing companies such as Ancestry and 23andme, and compare their autosomal DNA data files with others, KPIX-TV reported.

The service has become a huge help for genealogists and people seeking to build their family trees by allowing one-to-one, one-to-many X-DNA comparisons and other useful matrices.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Farm adapts to COVIDSubmitted: 09/24/2020

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MERRILL - Grampa's Farm in Merrill like a lot of businesses have had to adapt because of COVID.

"We've expanded our hours and we've expanded our play areas to include more things and outdoor space," said Jered Severt, operator at Grampa's Farm.

But change is something that Severt and his family are used to.

"The dairy industry just wasn't working out for the smaller farmer," Severt said.

Severt and his family have had their barn for over 100 years.

"When I was born I came back to this farm," Severt said. "When my father was born he came back to this farm. My grandfather and his father and the previous father have all worked the soil here and have been a part of Grampa's Farm."

And without all the help from his family and friends, he knows none of this would be possible.

"It still continues to be family run but friends and neighbors," Severt said. "A lot of people working together to make this happen for a lot of other people." 

For more information on Grampa's Farm check out their website.

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MADISON - The state is making more money available to help small businesses in Kenosha recover from damage during recent unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, officials announced Wednesday.

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MADISON - The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature on Wednesday appealed a federal court ruling that allows for absentee ballots to be counted up to six days after the Nov. 3 presidential election in the battleground state.

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- Park Falls Police Department is investigating two incidents when a man approached middle school boys earlier this month. It's an incident that the City of Park Falls Chief Jerome Ernst says he has not experienced in the last 30 years.

"This type of report is very rare for us, but you see these types of things happen. You now all over the place, Park Falls is not exempt.," Ernst said.

Ernst says back on September 8th, a middle school cross country runner was approached by a man after his practice near Chequamegon High School in Park Falls. The man told the boy that he was from 'Up North', and was asking for help to find the hospital. The second incident occurred on September 16th, when a man matching a similar description was seen on Saunders Avenue in Park Falls near Hines Park. When he approached two boys who were also in Middle School.

"The person only stated 'Do you want to race', and the kid just kinda ignored him, because he is a stranger, and he wasn't comfortable about it," Ernst said. "The other child however, tells us that the person said, 'Do you want to race me to my house. If you win I'll give you some prize or treats', Something like that," Ernst said.
Then last Friday a man matching a similar description was also seen in Wausau. According to a Facebook post and video posted online, he was accused of watching a group of girls.
"The description of the individual, looks a little bit like the person in the video. Although it's hard to tell because the videos are a little bit shaded and dark. The vehicle is definitely not the same like it is in Park Falls," Ernst said.
However, Park Falls and Wausau Police Department are partnering up to see if the incidents may be connected.
Even if the cases are not connected, Ernst says it's a good reminder of stranger danger.
"If you are going out to play or do things or walk over to the park, stay in groups with your trusted friends or family. Talk to them about stranger danger. Not to immediately trust, a new person or strange person," Ernst said. 

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MADISON - On September 22nd the United States hit a staggering 200,000 COVID-19 deaths. Wisconsin alone has 100,000 cases. The high numbers of deaths and cases can be lowered by modifying our behaviors and by wearing a mask properly.

There have been revisions to the mask mandate. Originally, it was said that only people not feeling well are required to wear it. It was changed when it was discovered that just talking could cause an outbreak.

Dr. Jeff Pothof of UW Madison Health spoke about how not wearing a mask can affect your long term health.

"People who had no idea they were sick had enough virus where they could spread it and the only thing they needed to do to spread it was talk to someone else," said Pothof.

COVID-19 is all across the country and not wearing a mask is putting yourself and the people around you at risk.

"There is no way you can know. It is everywhere right now. To think that you live in a location where COVID-19 hasn't reached yet is just not true," said Pothof.

To ensure you're protected, wear a cloth mask that is two layers thick to prevent your droplets from escaping and to protect from other droplets.

Make sure to wash your cloth masks once a week and change paper masks once every three to 5 days.

"They need to cover your nose and your mouth. If you only cover your mouth, the mask is not effective. Those droplets are coming out your nose and it just doesn't work," said Pothof.

For those thinking there's no repercussions from catching COVID-19, there are health risks that can be long term and affect your everyday life.

"People who have had COVID-19 may not ever return to normal lung function and that can impact them in ways such as in physical exertion and their ability to do things. Their physical stamina may decreased because their lungs are no longer as effective as they were before they had COVID-19," said Pothof.

The other long term health risks of COVID-19 is an inflamed heart.

"Likewise people that have an inflamed heart muscle tissue their hearts don't pump as effectively. The more severe COVID-19 the more inflammation they saw in the heart muscle. And we don't know how long that will last. The more severe the COVID-19 the more inflammation they saw in the heart muscle," said Pothof.

In cities like Madison and Milwaukee, their hospitals are equipped to handle a large influx of people and have special wards to combat COVID-19--unlike the smaller hospitals in our communities.

"Even if you have a small outbreak , you're going to quickly strip the healthcare resources in your community and when that happens only bad things happen to those people," said Pothof.

Make sure to mask up properly, to keep your loved ones and your community safe. For more information, you can visit the CDC website.

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MILWAUKEE - Demonstrations in Wisconsin over a grand jury's decision not to indict Louisville, Kentucky police officers in Breonna Taylor's death were relatively peaceful with protesters in Milwaukee blocking traffic on an interstate.

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WASHINGTON - Spotify and the makers of Fortnite and Tinder are taking on Apple and Google as part of a newly formed coalition calling for "fair treatment" in the way the tech giants run their app stores.

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