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Millions of detailed voter records found unprotected on the internet

Millions of detailed voter records found unprotected on the internet

Vickery was able to download 1.1 terabytes of "entirely unsecured" data, which uses 9.5 billion data points to describe 198 million potential US voters' likely political preferences across 48 different categories.

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.

UpGuard risk analyst Chris Vickery discovered the trove on 12 June while scanning for publicly accessible data.

The data leak by Deep Root Analytics contains personal information of roughly 61 per cent of the U.S. population, technology news website Gizmodo reported. Roughly 61% of the population of the US has had information about their political leanings alongside home addresses, birth-dates, and phone numbers had personal information about themselves exposed.

Deep Root Analytics kept voter information in databases contained in the Amazon cloud, the Hill reported Monday. The information was originally meant to be used by political candidates to target potential voters and tailor their campaigns appropriately.

In addition to the PII, other types of data such as analysis on voter sentiment on various issues was also found.

"This exposure raises significant questions about the privacy and security Americans can expect for their most privileged information", O'Sullivan continued.

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"Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access", Lundry told Gizmodo.

UpGuard, the security firm that discovered the breach, noted that this was by far the largest of its kind to date.

Deep Root Analytics said in a statement to ZDNet that it accepts full responsibility for exposing the server.

The bulk of the data is split into two huge spreadsheets, one containing information collected around the 2008 general election and the other with data from the 2012 election.

The 198 million records were found on an Amazon storage server owned by Republican data analytics firm Deep Root Analytics.

Perhaps the worst part about all of this is there's very little voters can do to ensure their information is stored privately and securely. "This is valuable for people who have nefarious purposes", Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said of the data.

The data-protection watchdog said it is also looking into the broader use of data analytics techniques to influence public opinion and how they capture and use citizens' data.

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