Thanks to the diligence of an independent computer security researcher, a database containing the personal information of about 191 million American voters was found exposed on the open internet to what is said to be an incorrectly configured database.
The contents of the database contains the usual names and addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and emails as well as party affiliations of the voters.
The hero to this story is one Chris Vickery who is a tech support specialists located in Austin, Texas. He said he’d found he information while researching for information that has been exposed on the web so that he could raise awareness to such security issues.
The issue at hand is multi-fold. Usually voter data is public information, but to collect this much data would be expensive and time consuming. Thus a juicy looking database like this with so much data could be used by criminals the world over for any variety of scams.
Finger pointing so far has targeted voter databases from each state to software companies. None has been found responsible so far.
The past 10 to 15 years has seen enormous amounts of people’s personal data ripped off or exposed via the internet. From sheer stupidity and sloppiness from programmers and database managers to outright hacking and deliberate sabotage, it beomes continually aggravating to citizens as they have no longer confidence in government and law enforcement to protect them.
Even government cannot protect its own databases as the world saw with the Eric Snowden case, and industry and entertainment are equally as vulnerable as was seen in the massive SONY Entertainment breach that cost many an executive their jobs when personal emails were released to the public exposing unethical conduct.
With the web expanding even more, with mobile surfing surpassing desktop, the call for greater security via computing knows no end. The US not only has to battle domestic hacking but also international hacking from government sponsored hackers such as from China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and more.
This is just one database that has been discovered and there is no telling as yet as to how many more lay exposed.
Hackers and criminals who use these databases to target people and companies for theft, extortion, and worse. Finding budget and manpower to protect the people has been a challenge as the US has been negligent for years to do so, instead spending money in the Middle East for wars instead of shoring up its cyber defenses.
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