A further 24TB of data was also found in the S3 bucket, but it was protected against unauthorised access.
Two of the firms linked to the database, Deep Root Analytics and Target Point, were among three firms hired by the RNC to do most of its data modeling and voter scoring in 2016, according to a December Ad Age story, with a mandate to shore up unconvinced Trump-leaning voters, sway weak Hillary Clinton supporters, and capture undecided voters.
How could someone get access to all that information?
Upguard said this was the largest known breach of voter data in history and represented the equivalent of 10 billion pages of text.
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"We take full responsibility for this situation", said the contractor, Deep Root Analytics, in a statement.
Political data breaches aren't just for the DNC anymore: A GOP data firm has accidentally leaked personal information on nearly all of the 200 million registered voters it had access to. "Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access", Lundry said. The data fields included views on specific issues including abortion, gun rights and environmental issues, he said.
"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", Dan O'Sullivan wrote in a blog post on Upguard's website. Since its discovery, the server has been secured, but there is no telling how long the massive trove of voter files were vulnerable to probe by any curious party.
"What is alarming about this now is that I believe it's the first time RNC IDs and model data have been exposed", said Matt Oszcowski, a veteran GOP political data strategist. "This is not just a list of people; this is unique proprietary information which gives away (Republican) strategy and informs on targeting and methodology". The information includes phone numbers, addresses, and detailed personal political opinions.
"They're using this information to create political dossiers on individuals that are now available for anyone", Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told the Post.
Although it is known that political parties routinely gather data on voters, this is the largest breach of electoral data in the U.S. to date and privacy experts are concerned about the sheer scale of the data gathered.
Data containing the personal information and ideological preferences of 198 million USA citizens gathered by a conservative political consulting firm that worked with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign was compromised this month, Gizmodo reports. While this kind of data collection sounds insidious, it's a reality that contributed to the 2016 election of Donald Trump.