If you are a registered American voter, there is a strong chance that personal information stored in your voter registration record was left exposed and unattended to anyone with internet access since Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States.
The aforementioned incident was discovered by researchers and analysts from UpGuard, a renowned Silicon Valley information security firm. A security expert from UpGuard noticed that a massive database larger than a terabyte was left unsecured in a virtual server hosted by Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud computing provider in the world.
The compromised information was not limited to voter registration rolls, which are publicly accessible. According to several news reports, the information was collated to data from other databases by Deep Root Analytics, an IT contractor working for the Republican Party. Your name, home address, telephone number, and date of birth may have been appended to your social media profile and online activity as it relates to your political affiliation and sentiment.
It is important to note that the database in question was not hacked; if anything, the investigative work by UpGuard prevented a malicious situation since the operator of the database does not believe that cybercrime groups were able to access it. To better understand the situation, think about a document that you upload to a cloud service such as Pastebin, which is publicly accessible without a password; anyone browsing Pastebin will be able to see the document you posted.
Data science firms such as Deep Root Analytics are increasingly being contracted by political parties for the purpose of profiling voters and to seek potential points of entry with regard to campaign strategy. For example, a shadowy British firm called Cambridge Analytica is widely believed to have worked in the background of the Brexit referendum and the Trump election.
The UpGuard discovery comes at a time when Americans no longer trust the integrity and security of their electoral systems. Congress has been conducting an investigation into alleged election interference by hackers and cybercrime groups working for Russian intelligence agencies.
A few weeks ago, a whistleblower in Georgia leaked a confidential security report that acknowledged voting machines had been breached by Russian hackers ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Even more recently, intelligence officials have testified before Congress to admit that Russian hackers probed voter registration systems in several states.
What makes all these incidents even more uncomfortable is that they are being revealed against the backdrop of an investigation by the FBI into suspected ties between the Kremlin and the political campaign that elected President Trump. The investigation dates back to the time when Russian hackers breached the Democratic National Committee email servers and turned over correspondence to WikiLeaks. This investigation is turning more scandalous as days go by, and each revelation seems to be more shocking and worrisome than the previous one.