- August 8, 2018
Personal information of over 198 million American voters accidentally exposed
Voter data, including personal information and profiling data on every registered US voter going back a decade, was recently exposed due to an unsecured server.
Meaning, whether you voted for the left or the right, your selection—as well as all other personal information that you may have shared regarding your family or your interests—were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a data analytics firm called Deep Root Analytics.
Additionally, a political robocalling company called RoboCent exposed client files that detailed party affiliation, address, phone number, and the name of millions of US voters. Just how safe are you when your information is so readily exposed by companies? Chances are, you aren’t safe at all.
Accident or strategy?
Sensitive records have been exposed “mistakenly” on the Amazon Simple Storage Service, exposing the personal information of over 102,431,953 individuals, according to Spectrum.
RoboCent, a company that conducts polls on behalf of political campaigns, was found to have exposed files from cybersecurity specialists. Americans have trusted their information to companies that promise to protect the details received. Additionally, people tend to believe large companies that claim to only be interested in getting information to better understand current trends, be it political or otherwise.
The unfortunate reality is that the moment you share your information online, on paper, or to an individual you have just placed yourself in a very vulnerable position. One must question whether this “leak” is one of strategy, such as the data-driven campaign of Barack Obama in 2008 or if it’s truly accidental – which would raise the question of whether we can truly trust online security, even if it states the information shared will not go to third parties (let alone the world).
When your personal information is shared on purpose
Data Trust was a warehouse created by the GOP to serve as its exclusive data provider of voter records. The company sold and supplied data to political candidates who relied on access to the data in order to shape their campaigns, according to ZDNet.
This was very valuable information to candidates because they needed to know that they were speaking on issues that were relevant to the people. The information contained was of those within the general public, and it was massive and included feelings on issues of importance, personal income, education level, and so on. This opened the door to other companies which collected this same information and then stored it only to find that their mainframes were not protected or secure enough to ensure that the information would not be exposed.
However, does it really matter whether a company shares information on you and your family on purpose or accident when it leaves you completely exposed? Not really.
How to protect yourself and your personal information
Unfortunately, there is no way to really protect the information that you share when registering to vote, giving feedback on a consensus, or sharing political affiliations and other information with companies that collect such data. You rely on secured servers that are supposedly equipped with the technology to keep your private information safe.
Education is key and information is power – so make sure that you think twice before freely sharing with companies that call or request personal information.