MyHeritage announced a data security breach to their service late yesterday, June 4, on the MyHeritage Blog.
"We determined that the file was legitimate and included the email addresses and hashed passwords of 92,283,889 users who had signed up to MyHeritage up to and including Oct 26, 2017 which is the date of the breach."
It is important to note that there is no reason to believe that any password information has been compromised. The passwords—as with almost all websites, including ours—are stored in what's called a "hash" format: essentially, a string of gibberish that can't be reconstituted to a password without a separate, binary "key" file. MyHeritage indicates that no data but email addresses seem to have been compromised:
"We have no reason to believe that any other MyHeritage systems were compromised. As an example, credit card information is not stored on MyHeritage to begin with, but only on trusted third-party billing providers (e.g. BlueSnap, PayPal) utilized by MyHeritage. Other types of sensitive data such as family trees and DNA data are stored by MyHeritage on segregated systems, separate from those that store the email addresses, and they include added layers of security. We have no reason to believe those systems have been compromised."
Still, for maximum safety, MyHeritage is recommending all registered users change their passwords, and use a strong, unique password. Instructions for doing so can be found at this FAQ link.
Last night, on the FamilyTreeDNA Forums, FTDNA Customer Service representative Darren Marin posted that both Ysearch.org and Mitosearch.org will permanently cease operation. He included the comment, "Management is aiming for the end of this month but the exact date has not been announced yet."
With the European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) taking effect on May 25, it seems almost a certainty that the websites will cease operation on or before that date. Approximately 12% of the records in Ysearch, for example, originated at labs other than FTDNA, and that information—both Y-STR detail and ancestor summaries—will be lost permanently. Y-DNA data from FTDNA will remain under accounts at the company, but Y-STR information generated originally by organizations like Sorenson Molecular, version one of the Genographic Project, and Ancestry.com, will no longer be available. If the results at Ysearch and Mitosearch have significance to you or a project on which you work, it is highly recommended that you take steps to capture the data as soon as possible.
Today, FamilyTreeDNA sent a confirming email to all those with a registered account at Ysearch and Mitosearch informing that 24 May will be the last date of operation for the two sites. The text of the notification follows:
Dear Valued Ysearch & Mitosearch Members,
On May 24th, 2018, our free, public genetic-genealogy databases, ysearch.org and mitosearch.org, will no longer be accessible as a result of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect on May 25th.
As the founders of the direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy industry, we did not make this decision lightly. We believe it is necessary given the resources it would take to make both sites GDPR compliant. The current environment regarding DNA privacy as well as recent events in the news, particularly DNA databases being utilized to solve cold cases, were also considerations, but the rigorous requirements of GDPR would have prompted this action irrespective of current events.
User privacy policies across all of the major consumer genetic-genealogy service providers have become a topic of national conversation, and it is our goal to ensure that our privacy policies continue to meet or exceed industry norms.
We encourage you to continue your journey of discovery with us on FamilyTreeDNA, and we thank you for your participation in "citizen science" over the years.
"Cumbria, a Forgotten Celtic Kingdom," is an informative and entertaining piece by Jim Threlkeld that has found a highlighted place on the Threlkeld One-Name Study website. Opening the narrative at around 500 BC when Celtic peoples began emigrating to the British Isles—displacing the native Britons, the Neolithic people who built Stonehenge and other monuments, including the Castlerigg Stone Circle near the village of Threlkeld—Jim tells us of the Celtic kingdom, Rheged, that flourished after the retreat of the Roman armies in what is today County Cumbria. From the rule of Urien, who was assassinated by Morcant of Din Eiden, through the rein Urien's grandson Rhoedd—likely the last king of an independent Cumbria—until the absorption in the 630s of Rheged/Cumbria into the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.
Jim writes, "Mythic, legendary, heroic—all of these terms accurately describe the stories of Cumbria. There is, however, another, equally applicable term (and one of special interest to me): 'Tolkienesque.'" Read on to see how ancient Cumbria may have influenced not only The Lord of the Rings, but also the legend of King Arthur and Camelot.
The doors opened Sunday, February 25 with all major functions tested and operational. Search engine indexing, which will require a few days for complete cataloging, has begun. Study registration, the Assests & Archives library, file uploads, the Forum, the Threlkeld Tribune, the Counting Chromosomes Blog, and the archival family trees where we'll seek to document the earliest progenitors of the surnames and major surname variants of the Study are all now available.
There are some additional nice-to-have features we hope to introduce before the end of May. In April we expect the first Study-produced research paper to be published. It will investigate the large number of surname variant spellings, and look at their etymologies and frequencies of use. We hope to be able to determine which are definitely variant spellings, which are possible variants, and which are of different origins and probably unrelated to the Threlkeld One-Name Study.
Considered now in post-beta mode, basic testing was completed yesterday following significant platform and application upgrades that had been pending completion of certain content modules. Pre-registrants are being notified and, assuming no significant issues are discovered in the meantime, search engine indexing will begin as of February 21.
There are several internet domain names associate with the Threlkeld One-Name Study. For reference, and if one of these might be most useful in telling others about the site:
Following several delays—only a few of which were technical in nature—the doors to the Threlkeld One-Name Study website will be unlocked on February 15. We will be opening without a couple of the planned features, but these are more cosmetic than essential.
Those who have pre-registered will receive email notification when the site is ready for final testing. The plan is to open on the 15th, but not to present the site for search engine indexing for a few more days, just to make certain there are no undiscovered glitches to iron out first.
Thanks for being patient. And let's hope summer 2018 brings only a mild hurricane season.
Hurricane Harvey came ashore 200 miles south along the Texas coast from Houston, but the greater metropolitan area was in the sights of the "dirty," northeast side of the storm. Massive bands of rain being spun in off the Gulf of Mexico have brought tornadoes and over 3 trillion gallons of rain. This is the greatest flood event in Houston since records have been kept, already exceeding the previous 1949 record levels, with more rain still to come.
Travel within the Greater Houston area is extremely difficult if not, in some cases, impossible. The Threlkeld One-Name Study's webserver is located in Salt Lake City in a Tier 3 data center, and will not be impacted by this weather event. However, our work on website development from Houston is suspended until at least Thursday, August 31. We will accept registration applications during that time, but they will not be processed until the 31st at the earliest. Thank you for your patience during this 500-year weather event.
On Saturday August 26th at 8:00 p.m. EDT (Sunday August 27th 10:00 a.m. AEST) WikiTree LiveCasts will welcome Paul Bech to discuss the various Australia-related projects underway at WikiTree, plus take audience questions about anything concerning genealogy in Australia and New Zealand.