July 23, 2017

GOP-hired data company leaked information on 198 million citizens

20 June 2017, 01:15 | Guillermo Sutton

Data on 198M voters exposed by RNC contractor

Republican data analytics firm exposes voting records on 198 million Americans

The Koch data operation, which is widely regarded by Republican strategists, had more than 200 GOP campaigns and state parties as clients in 2016, The Post reported previous year.

According a statement provided to Gizmodo, Deep Root claims the 1.1 terabytes of personal information was publicly accessible for 12 days due to a security update.

The data trove was apparently made public by accident by one of the data-mining companies that compiled it.

The data, stored on an Amazon Web Services server, is owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics and was uncovered by UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery.

In addition to the general database information were files on USA voters containing 9.5 billion projections, calculated on a scale of zero to one and with precision to the sixth decimal point, on voting tendencies in past presidential elections and on a series of 46 issues, UpGuard said.

A California-based cybersecurity firm found a database of almost 200 million American voters - along with their preferences and modeling data - left unsecured on an Amazon cloud server by data contractors working on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid.

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A marketing firm once contracted by the Republican National Committee exposed personal data including birth dates, emails, physical addresses, religion, race, and political leanings for more than half the US population. "Based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hacked", Deep Root Analytics' founder Alex Lundry told technology website Gizmodo. The discovery came from cybersecurity company UpGuard who learned terabytes of data were not password protected on an Amazon server. Those files included a rating system that showed a voter's likelihood to support a policy or candidate on a scale of "very unlikely" to "very likely".

This vast exposure of voter information highlights the growing risk of data-driven campaigning used by both the DNC and RNC.

This exposure raises significant questions about the privacy and security Americans can expect for their most privileged information.

"Beyond the nearly limitless criminal applications of the exposed data for purposes of identity theft, fraud, and resale on the black market, the heft of the data and analytical power of the modeling could be applied to even more ambitious efforts-corporate marketing, spam, advanced political targeting", wrote O'Sullivan. We help entities understand what local TV ad buys to make. Through this process, which is now underway, we have learned that access was gained through a recent change in asset access settings since June 1.

"If we can find that, anyone can find that", O'Sullivan said. The database had last been updated in January 2017. It is believed 62 percent of the U.S. population was affected. Vickery discovered and reported the server but it's unclear if he was the first to get to the data or if someone else may have had access first.

The information was collected by Deep Root Analytics, which aggregates information from everything from subreddits to super PACs.

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