RNC Contractor Exposes 198M Voters' Personal Data

21 June, 2017, 01:44 | Author: Celia Hoffman
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The personal information of more than 198 million USA voters was exposed online in what security firm UpGuard is calling the biggest ever leak of United States voter data.

Researchers say a massive, unsecured Amazon Web Services database containing information on almost 200 million people was the work of a consulting company hired by the US Republican National Committee.

"The data repository, an Amazon Web Services S3 bucket, lacked any protection against access".

A cyber-risk analyst for UpGuard discovered the online data last week.

A huge database containing personal details of 198 million United States voters was left publicly available online for nearly two weeks. In addition to more standard information like a person's name and address, it included individual income levels, whether they donated to religious organizations, where they worked, and whether they were politically conservative. The company was hired by the Republican National Committee (RNC) in the run-up to the 2016 USA presidential election to provide insights on American voters and their feelings towards important campaign issues.

UpGuard notes the recent lapse also eclipses political data breaches in other countries, including those for 93.4 million Mexican voters and 55 million voters in the Philippines, both of which occurred in April 2016.

Deep Root Analytics says its doesn't believe any malicious third party obtained the information, but it has hired a digital forensics team to investigate.

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While this latest leak can't compare to the billion users that were affected by the Yahoo hack it's more the quality of the information that was leaked that is so alarming.

The database, maintained by Deep Root Analytics, was publicly accessible to anyone as long as they had a link to the Amazon cloud server on which it was stored. "Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access".

The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics.

Deep Root said it believes only Vickery accessed the database during that time.

The exposure was unearthed by security firm UpGuard. "This is valuable for people who have nefarious purposes", Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said of the data.

Deep Root Analytics said in a statement to ZDNet that it accepts full responsibility for exposing the server. One file, for example, listed each potential voter individually and rated their likelihood to support a policy, candidate, or issue at the top of the column. The data accessed was not built for or used by any specific client.

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