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Personal Data of 200 Million Got Exposed

Apparently, almost 200 million US citizen’s personal data, including – birthdays, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views have accidently exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee.

There were 1.1 terabytes of data that was nearly 62% of the entire US population.

These data were up and available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server.

Chris Vickery, a cyber-risk analyst with security firm UpGuard is responsible behind the exposure of the huge cache of data.

The information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources – from posts on controversial banned threads on the social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party.

Deep Root Analytics owned the server where the spreadsheet with all the information was uploaded that was updated in January when President Donald Trump was inaugurated and had been online for an unknown period of time.

Alex Lundry, founder of Deep Root Analytics torld Gizmodo, the technology website, “We take full responsibility for this situation. Based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hackedSince this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access.”

It has been suspected that the data was meant to be used by influential Republican political organizations based on the file names and directories.

Dan O’Sullivan wrote in a blog post on Upguard’s website saying, “That such an enormous national database could be created and hosted online, missing even the simplest of protections against the data being publicly accessible, is troubling. The ability to collect such information and store it insecurely further calls into question the responsibilities owed by private corporations and political campaigns to those citizens targeted by increasingly high-powered data analytics operations.”

Privacy International’s policy officer Frederike Kaltheuner told the BBC News website, “This is deeply troubling. This is not just sensitive, it’s intimate information, predictions about people’s behaviour, opinions and beliefs that people have never decided to disclose to anyone.”

Ms. Kaltheuner added, “It is a threat to the way democracy works. The GOP [Republican Party] relied on publicly-collected, commercially-provided information. Nobody would have realized that the data they entrusted to one organization would end up in a database used to target them politically. You should be in charge of what is happening to your data, who can use it and for what purposes.”

Paul Fletcher, a cyber-security evangelist at security firm Alert Logic told the BBC, “The potential for this type of data being made available publicly and on the dark web is extremely high.”

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