Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Millions of detailed voter records found unprotected on the internet

Firm Contracted By RNC Left Millions Of Voter Files Unsecured Online Millions of detailed voter records found unprotected on the internet
Mae Harvey | 21 June, 2017, 01:41

Personal information pertaining to as many as 198 million American registered voters was held in a publicly accessible online database, a security researcher revealed today (June 19). The objective of the database seems to have been the Republicans' desire to use big data in their goal of electing, then Presidential candidate, Donald Trump to office.

The records, according to UpGuard, had been stored in an AWS S3 storage instance that had been misconfigured to leave public access open, meaning anyone who knew of the server's AWS subdomain could pull up the 1.1TB of voter data.

The problem for nearly all of the country's 200 million voters - across the political spectrum - arose out of a "misconfigured database", according to Mountain View's UpGuard, which discovered the security breach by Virginia's Deep Root Analytics.

The database also contains files that may be from another data firm, TargetPoint, suggesting the two companies shared United States voter information.

In addition to personal info - names, addresses, phone numbers and more - the database also scored people on their political beliefs and voting habits. The ability to collect such information and store it insecurely further calls into question the responsibilities owed by private corporations and political campaigns to those citizens targeted by increasingly high-powered data analytics operations.

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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. Then stored it in a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server.

The company said it had updated its system-access settings and "put protocols in place to prevent further access". The best thing you can do is keep as little personal information about yourself online - and hope that Deep Root's claim that the information wasn't stolen is true.

The exposure was unearthed by security firm UpGuard. The data first became exposed June 1 after Deep Root updated its security settings, the founder says, and the company has hired a cybersecurity and digital forensics firm to investigate the fallout. But that's not all, there are a total of 48 data fields for each individual voter, detailing their stances on a number of subjects including gun rights, abortion, environmental issues and even opinions on stem cell research. "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.

The information from TargetPoint included entries that rate voters based on how likely - the scale went from "very unlikely" to "very likely" - they will support a certain candidate or policy.

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