In what is being called the largest data breach of its kind, the personal information of nearly 200 million registered voters in the United States was left exposed on the internet by Deep Roots Analytics, a data firm contracted to work for the Republican National Convention.
Deep Roots Analytics had compiled information on registered voters from a vast number of sources that revealed such information as name, address, date of birth and phone numbers in addition to individuals’ preferences on a wide range of issues from gun control to birth control and many other topics relevant to those running for political office. The company gathers information for the purpose of identifying audiences for political ads.
In total, 1.1 terabytes of data on what represents up to 62 percent of the American public is in the Deep Roots Analytics files, arranged in spreadsheets and stored in the cloud on an Amazon server without so much as a password to protect the sensitive information from prying eyes. Anyone who had the company’s URL could have accessed the data stored there.
Fortunately, the vulnerability was discovered by a cyber-risk analyst, Chris Vickey, of UpGuard last week, who reported what he had found to Deep Roots Analytics. From what is currently known, it appears that no one other than Vickey accessed the sensitive and personally-identifying information.
“We take full responsibility for this situation. Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access. Based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hacked.”
In an ironic twist, the data breach occurred on June 1 when Deep Root Analytics updated its security settings. Vickey discovered the breach on June 12 and reported that Deep Roots’ server was secured on June 14.
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