Private data of 198 million US voters accidentally leaked online

Private data of 198 million US voters accidentally leaked online


The personal details were available to anyone who had the right web address

Saul Gravy/Getty

A huge database containing personal details of 198 million American voters was left publicly available online for almost two weeks. The data haul, collected on behalf of the Republican National Committee, contained people’s phone numbers and addresses as well as assumptions about their religion and ethnicity.

The files, discovered by a risk analyst at cybersecurity firm UpGuard, were accidentally left unsecured on a web server. Absolutely anyone with the website’s URL could access and download the unencrypted dataset without entering a password.

“The fact that this was publicly available on the internet is just mindblowing,” says Brandon McCrillis, CEO at Rendition Infosec. “Criminal syndicates would be extremely interested in this data.”


UpGuard first discovered the files on June 12th and they were eventually secured on June 14th, after the company informed federal authorities about the accidental leak. Mike Baukes, UpGuard’s co-CEO, estimates that the database was open to the public for between ten and twelve days in total.

The publicly accessible server was owned and updated by Deep Root Analytics, a company has helped the Republican party target voters with advertising during political campaigns. Its co-founder, Alex Lundry, led the analytics for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and Jeb Bush’s 2016  “Simply put,” the company’s website reads, “the Deep Root team is the most experienced group of targeters in Republican politics.”

Targeted ads

At least two other data analytics companies, TargetPoint Consulting and Data Trust, also contributed to the 1.1 terabyte dataset. All three of the companies were hired to help Donald Trump target political advertising during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The dataset, which was most recently updated in January 2017, includes details on voters in every US state and the District of Columbia. Almost all of the country’s 200 million registered voters are included in the haul, which equates to about sixty percent of the entire population.

The bulk of the data is split into two huge spreadsheets, one containing information collected around the 2008 Obama election and the other with data from the 2012 election. These files include include voters’ registered party, self-reported racial demographic and whether they are on the federal ‘do not call’ list or not.  Two more columns of data include voters’ ‘modeled ethnicity’ and ‘modeled religion’.

A further dataset, which was updated around the time of Trump’s inauguration, rates how likely individual voters are to support certain areas of policy, such as the President’s ‘America First’ stance or his support of the auto manufacturing industry. Another of the forty-six categories estimates how likely it is that each person in the dataset voted for Obama in 2012.


More on these topics:


via New Scientist – News

June 20, 2017 at 07:18AM


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