Info on 198M Americans Was Exposed for 2 Weeks

That's nearly all the registered voters in the US
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2017 12:57 PM CDT
GOP Data Firm Exposes Info Gathered on 198M Americans
Voters line up in voting booths to cast their ballots at Robious Elementary School in Chesterfield, Va., on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016.   (Shelby Lum/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

More than 198 million Americans—that's about 61% of the US population, as Gizmodo points out—had personal information and political data exposed this month. It includes home addresses, birthdates, phone numbers, plus data used to predict which way they might vote on specific issues and what religion and ethnicity they might be. UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery discovered last week that Deep Root, a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee, stored the data on an Amazon cloud server with no password, meaning anyone who found the URL could access it. (It has since been secured, per the Hill.) In a post about the discovery Monday, UpGuard calls it "the largest known data exposure of its kind," pointing out that the data covers almost all of the 200 million registered voters in the US.

The data included in the leak was gathered from many sources, from Karl Rove's super PAC to a banned subreddit. Much of the data originated from data firms other than Deep Root, some of whom were also paid by the RNC, but Deep Root's founder tells Gizmodo the firm takes "full responsibility for this situation." 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. So far, it seems Deep Root's systems were not hacked and no malicious third parties accessed the data while it was exposed. Though some of the data involved is publicly accessible, experts say that having all of the data involved combined and available in one database is a big concern. "This is valuable for people who have nefarious purposes," says one. (More leak stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.