Sunday, December 3, 2023

Factored In


It occurred to me—the laser-focused yet rabbit-trail-compromised researcher—that it had been a long time since I worked on DNA matches for my in-laws' tree. Last night, it just so happened that I decided to make amends for that oversight at the very moment AncestryDNA stopped making their ever-so-polite reminders that someday they were going to require everyone to switch to using two factor authentication when signing in. 

It is all for security reasons, and for the sake of our own privacy and peace of mind, of course. And I knew it was coming. It's just that for every polite reminder, I had yet another excuse. I had a class to teach, and I didn't want anything to go unexpectedly wrong right before the start of the session. I was busy adding just one more detail to the tree before running off late to an appointment. I was...

You know the drill: eventually, even if the excuses don't run out, the time does. And last night was apparently the night—at least for me. To see my DNA matches—or, more precisely, my husband's DNA matches—I couldn't access anything else until I completed the task. 

So I acquiesced. I did what was required. And, of course, nothing went wrong. Within moments, I was back on task with my husband's DNA matches, most of whom connect to my mother-in-law's extensive (and American-rooted) heritage. Lately, the new matches seem to dribble in, one or two per week, so after months of focusing on my own family lines, revisiting the other side of the family tree pointed out how much can add up, even if only a few at a time. (Still, I miss those old days when match after match seemed to keep pouring in.)

Whether the two factor authentication system will keep intruders and threats at bay for an extended period of time, or simply be just one more in yet another series of gatekeeping exercises, I sure can't tell. For now, I'm glad we have these capabilities. Using DNA to help build out my family trees—especially pointing the way with those mystery ancestors—has been invaluable. While I'm glad many people are now using DNA for genealogy, I'm just not as keen on the thought of others using my DNA in ways I haven't authorized—or even yet imagined.

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