23andMe tells victims it’s their fault that their data was breached

Facing more than 30 lawsuits from victims of its massive data breach, 23andMe is now deflecting the blame to the victims themselves in an attempt to absolve itself from any responsibility, according to a letter sent to a group of victims seen by TechCrunch.

“Rather than acknowledge its role in this data security disaster, 23andMe has apparently decided to leave its customers out to dry while downplaying the seriousness of these events,” Hassan Zavareei, one of the lawyers representing the victims who received the letter from 23andMe, told TechCrunch in an email.

In December, 23andMe admitted that hackers had stolen the genetic and ancestry data of 6.9 million users, nearly half of all its customers.

The data breach started with hackers accessing only around 14,000 user accounts. The hackers broke into this first set of victims by brute-forcing accounts with passwords that were known to be associated with the targeted customers, a technique known as credential stuffing.

From these 14,000 initial victims, however, the hackers were able to then access the personal data of the other 6.9 million million victims because they had opted-in to 23andMe’s DNA Relatives feature. This optional feature allows customers to automatically share some of their data with people who are considered their relatives on the platform.