How Huntington’s Is Like a Cyberattack

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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In early May, cybercriminals known as DarkSide launched a devastating ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, one of the United States’ largest pipeline systems for refined oil products, which transports around 100 million gallons of fuel daily between Texas and New York.

This attack reminded me of Huntington’s disease. Let me explain.

Hackers develop ransomware, a malicious software that infects an organization’s computer systems and servers with the intention of encrypting as much data as possible. It essentially holds all of the data hostage, so that the only way the organization can regain access is to pay a ransom to receive a decryption key.

Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4 million to get a decryption tool that helped it to get its 5,500 miles of pipeline operating again. As of writing, the latest news in the case is that U.S. investigators have recovered about $2.3 million in Bitcoins of the ransom.

The attack caused some high anxiety in various parts of the U.S., as fuel shortages led to panic-buying and hoarding. Social media threw some gas, so to speak, on the fire as a viral video thought to be current and related to the ransomware attack was, in fact, two years old. The video showed a woman storing gas in a plastic bag, which prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to warn people against such actions.

In other words, many people panicked about something they couldn’t control. It’s tempting for me to do the same about my wife, Jill, and daughter, Alexus, being gene-positive for Huntington’s disease. But two things help me not to descend into chaos: my faith in God, whose graces make my life crackle with abundant blessings, and the reminder that Jill and Alexus are still not showing any major Huntington’s symptoms.

Every day that Jill gets up and goes to work, I am grateful. I am grateful that Huntington’s has not yet taken her ability to do everything she needs to do at her job. The chaos that surrounds her at work makes her a little more tired at the end of the day. But she keeps moving forward, and every day she is happy to do so.

The more I thought about the Colonial Pipeline saga, the more I realized that Huntington’s is much like a cyberattack on a company.

At first it’s quiet. You don’t know it’s happening. The ransomware quietly moves in the background while you go on with your day. You leave and go home, but all the while it’s slowly spreading throughout your system. Once the attack has spread, you experience some glitches.

The final step is that the hackers take full control and lock you out of your own system. You feel helpless. That’s when they ask for money. What can you do? If you don’t pay, you lose your data. However, if you do pay, you still lose something. But at least you get to recover your information and take back control of your servers.

Either choice is a bad one; it’s a lose-lose situation. But if someone asked if I would pay any amount of ransom money to remove the malicious malware that is the Huntington’s gene, I would start fundraising immediately.

Until that moment comes, I choose to fill my plastic bag, not with gas, but with gratitude and love.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


sonny avatar


Blessings to you and your warrior wife & daughter. May I inquire as to the age of your wife & daughter now and since diagnosed have any symptoms presented. Please and thank you.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thanks for your blessings and my wife and daughter are, respectively, in their early 40s and early 20s. My wife has been experiencing some symptoms, such as chorea.

Rachael avatar


Your article hits home in so many ways! I pray for a cure or at least advance medications the will help keep this disease at bay. God bless you and your family

Christopher L Morey avatar

Christopher L Morey

I wish there was more publicity and public awareness.I watched the news and they were having a fund raiser for Alzheimer's.I never heard of Huntingtons until my wife was diagnosed with it. What about Huntingtons?

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for your comments. I agree with you. What's interesting about what you wrote is that the past couple of weeks I have been seeing that a lot of other rare disease get a lot of publicity and HD not so much. So I am going to be writing in several upcoming columns about the need to create greater awareness of HD.
By the way, my heart goes out to you knowing that your wife has been diagnosed with it. I hope you know that I am always here if you need to vent or share your feelings. The bond in the HD community is a close one because we understand. Take care.


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