An unsecured database containing the personal information of 14.8 million Texas voters was discovered by a New Zealand-based data breach hunter who goes by the pseudonym Flash Gordon, reports TechCrunch.
It’s not clear who owned the server where the exposed file was found, but an analysis of the data reveals that it was likely originally compiled by Data Trust, a Republican-focused data analytics firm created by the GOP to provide campaigns with voter data.
Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at security firm UpGuard, analyzed a portion of the data. (It was Vickery who found a larger trove of 198 million voter records last year exposed by a similar data firm Deep Root Analytics, which sourced much of its data from Data Trust.) -TC
The nearly 16 gigabyte file contained "dozens of fields, including personal information like a voter's name, address, gender, race and several years' worth of voting history," including presidential elections and primaries.
While some of the information in the Texas voter database is already obtainable ofr a fee according to the Texas Tribune, a person's social security number, political affiliations and party memberships are not.
data-driven political firms like Data Trust use the data for political purposes, specializing in supplementing those voter profiles with information that might help a campaign to flip a person who might not vote for a Republican candidate at the ballot box.
That’s where this file fills in the gaps with dozens of other fields, which can be used by campaigns to position their political messaging. -TC
The unsecured database goes far beyond basic voter information in order to help campaigns which might purchase the data to better message to constituents. For example, a voter's views on immigration, abortion rights, firearms and government spending were included in some of the fields.
Other data was more relevant to the 2016 US general election - as the data "predictively scored individuals on if they "trust" or have "not trust" for then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton."
It is unknown when the data was compiled, however an analysis suggests it was done prior to the 2016 presidential election.