Discovered by an analyst with the cybersecurity company UpGuard, the data was stored on a publicly accessible Amazon server. At a time when even many Americans protect their most basic emails and photos using passwords and two-step authentication, the security missteps by Deep Root Analytics, the contractor behind the breach, represent a form of gross negligence, he added. Information includes birthdates, home addresses, and phone numbers, as well as predicted information assembled by analysis groups to determine things like ethnicity, religion and stances on hot-button issues such as gun ownership and abortion. He said the data included proprietary information as well as publicly available voter data provided by state government officials.
More information still came from The Kantar Group, an global media and market research firm with hundreds of offices on six continents.
More than 198 million Americans-that's about 61% of the U.S. population, as Gizmodo points out-had personal information and political data exposed this month.
This is according to UpGuard, a firm that says it discovered this database on June 12.
The unsecured server hosted spreadsheets with GOP voters identified with names and unique identifiers from the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.
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. The data accessed was not built for or used by any specific client.
It said the files offer insights into the strategy used by Trump's campaign to target voters based on "data points" fed into an algorithmic formula.
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Deep Root confirmed that they owned and operated the bucket, which was secured against public access after Vickery notified federal authorities.
This is what allowed the growth of a special niche of companies that provide so-called voter advertising, allowing campaigners of various political camps to go after registered voters with targeted ads.
This isn't the first batch of voter data found by Vickery.
Forbes is reporting Deep Roots Analytics, a company who targets audiences for political ads, leaked information on almost 200 million Americans. UpGuard listed potential "misuses" of the information, including "the nearly limitless criminal applications of the exposed data for purposes of identity theft, fraud, and resale on the black market". "This is not just sensitive, it's intimate information, predictions about people's behaviour, opinions and beliefs that people have never chose to disclose to anyone", Privacy International's policy officer Frederike Kaltheuner told the BBC.
Information of more than 200 million people has been accidentally put out for the world to see by a marketing firm tasked with helping the Republican National Committee over the election.
"We accept full responsibility, will continue with our investigation, and based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hacked", he said.