[Axis of Easy] 23andMe Cashes In On Users' DNA

Weekly Axis Of Easy #129

Last Week’s Quote was “It is wisdom to cultivate the tree which you have found to bear fruit in your soul”.  …was Henry David Thoreau, winner was Todd Essig. 

This Week’s Quote:  “I’ve learned that the monsters ain’t underneath the bed” …by ?????

THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted to the blog

The Prize: First person to post the correct answer gets their next domain or hosting renewal on us.

We will be spinning out a stand-alone AxisOfEasy channel in the coming weeks. To get a head-start on a more frequent flow of items via that channel, subscribe to our updates via Mastodon or Twitter.

Listen to the podcast edition of #AxisOfEasy here:

#AxisOfEasy 129: 23andMe Cashes in on its Customers’ DNA from Mark Jeftovic on Vimeo.

  • 23andMe cashes in on users DNA
  • 5G: The Revolution that Wasn’t
  • Epic Systems drops support for Google Cloud
  • WeLeakInfo seized by FBI as Dutch cops arrest owners
  • Clearview matches faces to pics in your social media profiles
  • These cyberpunk shades thwart IR facial recognition
  • China recruiting hackers via network of front companies
  • Future Tools: The Brave Browser
  • Yes, our support ticketing system has issues


The DNA testing company 23andMe has licensed the rights to a drug that was developed from the data obtained by analyzing its customers’ DNA. This deal is expected to be the first of many such arrangements, where you pay them to warehouse, inspect and license products based on your DNA and then they get to keep the money. I checked to see if these guys were publicly traded because while I’d never pay to find out whether or not I’m 1/1024th Aboriginal Mongolian but this is one unicorn I wouldn’t mind owning. As we previously reported in #AxisofEasy 79, the SEC has already blessed this practice back when they did a $300 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline to share your DNA data with them.

5G: the Revolution that Wasn’t 

I am frequently asked by people outside tech exactly what 5G even is and they’re surprised when I tell them I have no idea, and that I don’t know many people that do. It became such a common occurrence that I finally asked my most knowledgeable colleague in the telecom space who told me it’s more of a buzzword than anything else. Mentally I have it in the same folder as “Artificial Intelligence” which really just means ultra-dense expert systems that have the true intelligence of a brick. 5G is “everything will be faster”, thanks to more base stations packed closer together and with it, the ability to better track your movements and activities. That’s about it.

This article unpacks it a lot more than my cynical asides, not the least of which is to point out that 5G outside of densely populated urban areas is probably a pipe dream, given that many rural areas still don’t even have broadband.

P.S We still have that client out in Los Angeles looking for an indie connectivity provider for SDSL or comparable connectivity with a /28 of IP space. Let me know.

Epic Systems drops support for Google Cloud

One of the largest medical records and billing providers in the US, Epic Systems, is telling customers that it is pulling the plug on support for Google Cloud and not to pursue any further integrations there. Instead the company will be focusing on Amazon and Microsoft Azure for cloud integrations. Apparently once a hospital goes with a documents provider for their internal systems, it tends to ossify underneath everything else in perpetuity.

The move stems more from lack of interest than privacy concerns. (Google’s arrangement with another health care provider, Ascension, came under fire after revelations that some employees had access to patient health records)

Read: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/12/google-project-nightingale-hospital-data-deal-raises-privacy-fears.html

WeLeakInfo seized by FBI as Dutch cops arrest owners

The hacker database WeLeakInfo has been seized. The website was a one-stop-shop to buy login credentials and passwords, as well as other personal data obtained in previous data breaches.

The domain name was seized by the FBI while Dutch police seized the servers and arrested two 22-year old men in connection with running the system.

Many legit security companies maintain a database of leaked creds, most well known perhaps being HaveIBeenPwned.com.  The big difference is these places only allow you to scan for leaked creds under domains you control, and most of them won’t even show you the passwords.

Clearview matches faces to pics in your social media profiles

A tiny software company in Australia has gone where even the Big Tech platforms have so far not dared tread: Clearview AI scraped a database of 3 million images off of Twitter, Facebook and Venmo. Then, you take a picture of anybody on the street, anybody at all, upload it to the Clearview system, and it will match it to their database thus giving you the identity of what was a few seconds ago, just another stranger on the street.

Numerous law enforcement agencies make use of the Clearview AI app to help solve crimes ranging from shoplifting and identity theft to murder and child exploitation.


These cyberpunk shades thwart IR facial recognition 

Regarding the Clearview AI story, I wonder if these would help? A Chicago-based company called Reflectacles is making sunglasses that are made of a material that reflects the infrared light that surveillance cameras employ, resulting in a glowing bulbous globe appearing int he camera frame where your face should be.  Reflectacles are running a kickstarter now and plan to ship in April, they also have clip-ons for those of you who wear prescription sunglasses.

(The article linked starts off with an anecdote about Cory Doctorow, the Canadian novelist (Amazon) and technoid who founded Boing Boing and originally operated out of Toronto here.)

China recruiting hackers via network of front companies 

Advanced Persistent Threat hackers are being recruited by front companies throughout China and operating as government sponsored agents, according to a shadowy group who has been exposing and doxxing these groups since at least last year. The group, called “Intrusion Truth” has been monitoring and tracking groups which are based throughout China by geographical area: APT13, for example, is believed to operate out of the Guangdong province, while APT10 are Tianjin and APT17 are Jinan province.

Intrusion Truth’s latest revelations relate to APT40, which operates off of the island of Hainan in the South China Sea.

APT40 is a Chinese cyber espionage group that’s been active since 2013. The group typically targeted countries strategically important to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, especially those with a focus on engineering and defense.”

Intrusion Truth blog: https://intrusiontruth.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/what-is-the-hainan-xiandun-technology-development-company/

Future Tools: The Brave Browser

I’ve always liked the Brave web browser and have been using it for awhile. I’ve even been meaning to write a blog post about it, it was going to be called “I like Brave”. Then Jesse Hirsh from Metaviews went ahead and did a deep dive into it in his Future Tools segment, which we sponsor. In a nutshell, Brave blocks all ads, unless you decide to allow them, and by allowing ads to appear in your browser, you can be paid to see them or click on them in Basic Attention Token (BAT).

In the Brave ecosystem, advertisers pay web browsers to view their ads. Website can also earn BAT via user donations. This is heading towards a viable micropayments infrastructure, which would kill the toxic ad-driven economy.

Yes, our support ticketing system has issues 

If you’ve sent an email into support lately, you may have experienced a bounce back instead of getting a ticket created. This is a known issue, it happens approximately 1 time in 50 or so. If you resend your ticket it’ll pretty well always go through.

We’ve gotten nowhere trying to fix this working with our vendor, despite my escalating this issue right up to their CEO. As such we are moving off of Kayako / Fusion to SupportPal. This has taken some time, but we’re close to a cutover point. Watch the blog and this space for updates.

We’re sorry about the hassle this has caused.

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