DRA firm left 1.1 TB of data unsecured on an Amazon S3, 198 million US voter records exposed

Pierluigi Paganini June 19, 2017

The popular security expert Chris Vickery revealed the DRA firm left 1.1 TB of data unsecured on an Amazon S3, 198 million US voter records exposed.

Researcher Chris Vickery has found nearly 200 million voter records in an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket maintained by Deep Root Analytics (DRA), it is the largest exposure of its kind in history.The records include the voter’s first and last name, home and mailing address, date of birth, phone number, party affiliation, ethnicity, voter registration data, and a flag should the person appear on the federal Do-Not-Call registry.

The voter files also include other attributes that could have been used for analysis based on ethnicity and religion.

In 2015, Vickery discovered an archive exposed online containing 191 million voter records.

DRA is a Republican big data analytics firm, the popular expert discovered the huge trove of data on June 12, then he reported the issue to the authorities and the company secured it in two days.

The archive contains complete voter files compiled by DRA and at least two other contractors, Target Point Consulting Inc. and Data Trust.

Voter information is considered public, but sometimes it is not easy to access them even if they are freely available. Anyway, it is forbidden the use of such data for commercial purposes.

The archive discovered by Vickery on the DRA S3 bucket (“data_trust”) contains a collection of personal information representing between 150 to 198 million potential voters.

“Salted Hash has seen an example voter record, and many of the profile fields are similar to those from two years ago.” reported Salted Hash.

“Using an internal “RNC ID” – each voter in the database can be uniquely identified and associated with the logged data points.”

The archive discovered by Vickery contains information on 2008, 2012, while data related to 2016 are associated only with details on voters in Ohio and Florida.

Vickery also found another folder in the S3 bucket belonging to Target Point. The records included in the folder used the same “RNC ID” for each voter, but the update timestamps are recent (January 2017).

According to UpGuard’s Dan O’Sullivan, data discovered by the expert “provide a rare glimpse in to a systematic large-scale analytics operation.”

“The result is a database of frightening scope and intrusiveness into the modeled personal and political preferences of most of the country – adding up in total to an unsecured political treasure trove of data which was free to download online.” 

Many of the Target Point data were focused on post-election data, they included scores for potential voters on specific topics.

“For example, one 50 GB file contained scores for potential voters, signifying their potential to support a given policy, such as President Trump’s foreign policy stance of “America First”, or how concerned they’ll be with auto manufacturing as an issue.” states Salted Hash.

The discovery highlights the risks for organizations in using cloud storage without implementing necessary security policies.

Amazon offers several tools and the guidance to secure the infrastructure of its customers, but evidently it is not enough.

Chris Vickery discovered many other clamorous cases of open database exposed on the Internet. In December 2015 the security expert discovered 191 million records belonging to US voters online, in April 2016 he also discovered a 132 GB MongoDB database open online and containing 93.4 million Mexican voter records.

In March 2016, Chris Vickery has discovered online the database of the Kinoptic iOS app, which was abandoned by developers, with details of over 198,000 users.

In January 2017, the expert discovered online an open Rsync server hosting the personal details for at least 200,000 IndyCar racing fans.

In March, he announced a 1.37 billion records data leak.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – data leak, DRA)

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