198 million United States voter identities may have exposed in massive security breach

Firm Contracted By RNC Left Millions Of Voter Files Unsecured Online

More than 198 million Americans-that's about 61% of the United States population, as Gizmodo points out-had personal information and political data exposed this month.

A data analytics firm that worked on the Republican campaign of Donald Trump exposed personal information belonging to some 198 million Americans, or almost every eligible registered voter, security researchers said Monday. A terabyte of completely unsecured data was found stored in the public cloud in an Amazon Web Services S3 bucket, accessible to anyone with an internet connection that navigated to the correct subdomain.

The discovery was made by Chris Vickery, cyber risk analyst at security firm UpGuard. Roughly 61% of the population of the United States of America has had information about their political leanings alongside home addresses, birth-dates, and phone numbers had personal information about themselves exposed.

The information also included information about "potential political inclinations" like where individual voters stand on issues like gun control and abortion, whether they voted for Obama in 2012, whether they agree with Trump's foreign policies, and how likely are to be concerned with specific issues like auto manufacturing. The company was hired by the Republican National Committee (RNC) in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election to provide insights on American voters and their feelings towards important campaign issues.

Five months later, Vickery also found a similar unprotected MongoDB database that exposed the personal details of 93,424,710 Mexican voters. He notified federal authorities, and confirmed that the information has now been secured against public access.

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Deep Root's data was exposed after the company updated its security settings on June 1, Lundry said.

Deep Root Analytics said in a statement that it took full responsibility for the situation. An extensive database of information about 198 million Americans collected by a contractor hired by Republican groups was obtained by a security researcher, who found it on an Amazon server, with not even a single password protecting it.

Deep Root, which has taken responsibility and already taken steps to update its protocols as of 1 June, does not believe it has been hacked. "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.

While no directory of files was visible online, to access them it was only necessary to understand the naming conventions typically used for database files on AWS and then use wildcards to search for possible hits, said Vickery.

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