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200 million voter records exposed online

200 million voter records exposed online
© Dmitry Osipov | Dreamstime.com

A successful data breach is like a goldmine for scammers. These breaches typically allow cybercriminals to get their hands on your personal information and sometimes your banking details. That's why it's important to stay vigilant and take steps to protect your critical data.

Most data breaches occur at retail locations or with online accounts. Having your personal info exposed by a political party is unthinkable. That's exactly what happened recently and nearly 200 million Americans were affected.

Your personal information may have been exposed

What we're talking about is a database of registered voters that was left unprotected online. Over 198 million Americans' personal information was exposed, that's almost every registered voter in the U.S. It's the largest data breach of this kind ever recorded.

The marketing firm, Deep Root Analytics, was hired by the Republican National Committee before the 2016 presidential election. The firm stored the database of voter information on a publicly accessible cloud server. The problem is the database was not password protected, meaning anyone could access the information with ease.

Here is a list of exposed data:

  • Names
  • Dates of birth
  • Home addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Voter registration details
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion

The data became exposed earlier this month when Deep Root updated the company's security settings. The company's founder told Gizmodo that the firm "takes full responsibility for this situation."

At this time it's unknown how many unauthorized people accessed the data. Deep Root has hired a cybersecurity team to investigate the breach.

The good news is, it appears that no sensitive banking details or account credentials were part of this breach. However, whenever a massive data breach occurs it's important to stay vigilant and take extra security steps.

How to respond after a data breach

  • Beware of phishing scams - Scammers will try and piggyback on a data breach like this. They will create phishing emails, pretending to offer details or solutions dealing with the breach, hoping to get victims to click on malicious links that will lead to more problems. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
  • Keep an eye on your bank accounts - You should already be frequently checking your bank statements, looking for suspicious activity. If you see anything that seems strange, report it immediately.
  • Set up two-factor authentication - Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, means that to log into your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It's like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
  • Investigate your email address - Have I Been Pwned is an easy-to-use site with a database of information that hackers and malicious programs have released publicly. It monitors hacker sites and collects new data every five to 10 minutes about the latest hacks and exposures.
  • Change your password - Whenever you hear news of a data breach, it's a good idea to change your account passwords. Read this article to help you create hack-proof passwords.
  • Close unused accounts - Here's an easy way to manage all of your online accounts at once.
  • Manage passwords - Many people use the same username and password on multiple sites. This is a terrible practice and you should never do it. If you're using the same credentials on multiple sites, change them to make them unique. If you have too many accounts to remember, you could always use a password manager.

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