In a recent security report, researchers revealed an unsecured archive of US voter data collected by Deep Root Analytics, a data firm connected to the Republican National Convention (RNC). The exposed data — which included full names, addresses, and phone numbers of 198 million registered voters — was uncovered by a security researcher in an internet-accessible database with no password protection or any other security measures. The database has been secured at the time of this writing, but it remains unclear how long this data was exposed to the internet.
It may be easy to assume exposures of this nature are an inevitability. After all, a data analytics firm associated with a major political party sounds like a clear target for bad actors. However, the data was discovered by a researcher performing unrelated searches through Amazon’s S3 infrastructure for any unprotected data, not targeted attacks against Deep Root Analytics or even voter data in particular. This fact underscores a critical necessity of the Internet: prioritize the security of your data at all stages of its life cycle. Your data needs to be secure where it’s stored, during network transit, and when it’s in the hands of third parties. This data leak in particular was the result of the RNC failing to properly ensure the security of their data in the hands of a third party contractor.