The Food and Drug Administration warned health care providers Thursday that a security vulnerability in DNA sequencers made by Illumina could allow unauthorized users to access or alter potentially important medical data.
The news is an embarrassing development at a time when Illumina’s management team, including CEO Francis deSouza, is trying to fight off a proxy battle by Carl Icahn. The activist investor is seeking to add three new members to Illumina’s board and has said that he would like to remove deSouza as CEO.
However, the FDA said neither it nor Illumina have received any reports to date indicating that the vulnerability has been exploited.
George Demetri, a leading cancer researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said that although the vulnerability could make a great plot for a science fiction movie, he worries that the public could be more frightened than is warranted.
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