Donald Trump was so confident in U.S. cybersecurity that he dismantled the area of the government that investigates voter security. Yet, Special Counsel Robert Mueller silently moves forward with his investigation into Russia attacking the 2016 presidential election and any links Moscow might have had to the Trump campaign. Now that the midterm elections are here, people are worried that their votes might not be secure. It appears that 62 million voters should be concerned.
Activist Barbara Malmet tweeted the news of the theft:
‘Revealed: Date on 62 million U.S. voters for sale on the Darknet – Midterms 2018: The Trump Referendum – Midterms 2018: The Trump Referendum.’
Unfortunately, an Israeli cybersecurity firm, ClearSky, discovered a huge data pool with information about “dozens of millions of American voters” from several states up for sale. CEO of ClearSky, Boaz Dooley said, according to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper:
‘We provide focused alerts to entities in Israel and abroad, and in order to do that, we have to track attackers through a variety of methods. As part of our tracking, we monitor markets where cyberattackers try to market their dubious goods, and that’s how we found the data pool on American voters ahead of Election Day. The data are fairly up-to-date. Some were last updated in 2017 and some in 2015.’
The data pool was for sale on the Darknet, which is a group of websites on an encrypted network. People using regular search engines and browsers cannot access them. The information on American voters came from “17 different states.”
Dooley continued, saying that text messages from those encrypted sites make their way even to cell phones:
‘It seems that there’s a serious issue over protecting voters’ personal information around the world. Only recently, during the municipal elections in Israel, we saw how dozens of text messages that originated from campaign headquarters of different candidates find their way onto the smartphones of every citizen. Campaign headquarters have data pools where, according to our assessment, information from different data pools is corroborated. The result is that there are concentrated attempts to alter people’s votes by sending them false information, incitement and ads.’
Arkansas has voter information for 1.7 million voters. If it was on the Darknet, a buyer could purchase:
‘Voters’ full names, their IDs, their current and past addresses, their dates of birth, gender and telephone numbers. The description of the data notes that as soon as payment for it is provided, if the buyer is unhappy he or she will have the payment refunded.’
Dooley said he knew about the giant voter raid in June of this year. At that time, though, it was not available for anyone to buy. ClearSky regularly tracks information such as this as part of its business plan. It needs to be aware of ongoing cyber threats for it clients.
In front of America’s midterm elections, ClearSky came upon one of the Darknet’s largest stores. It offered voter information in New York, New Jersey, Washington, and Connecticut among others.
For a price, this store offered, for a price, voters’ “political opinions and states whether the voter sides with the Republicans or Democrats.”
Dooley said that governments need to protect voters’ privacy “faster and more aggressively” or:
‘We will witness many other cases like this. Our personal details, which are being gathered by companies as well as the state, can be used not only by political elements that want to influence potential voters but also by dark or hostile entities. That’s why defense at the highest level is necessary, as well as actions by law enforcement.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.