In the days leading up to Christmas, Chris Vickery, the same security researcher that discovered the Hello Kitty data breach, was peeking about in the darkest caverns of the internet on a quest to find security holes and alert the responsible parties.
Like a metal detector hobbyist searching for slivers of antique metals, Vickery got a blip on his radar when he discovered a potentially-open cache of voter data. What he found did not turn out to be an old penny, however, but an entire mint.
The open database held the PII for 191 million registered voters in the United States, amounting to 300GB of home addresses, phone numbers, voting histories, and email addresses.
In addition to it taking a week for the information to be taken down (by a still unnamed party), it is not clear who might have accessed it before Vickery. So with the voter data for over half of the American population possibly floating around in the dark web, what can ordinary citizens and business owners do?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Once the data has been leaked, there is no way to un-expose it, nor is there any conceivable way to protector yourself from every data breach. When you shop at a store or provide your information when you vote, you automatically put trust in the hands of the companies who will be processing your data; trust that is often taken for granted and abused.
So while there is little that can be done about data that has already been compromised, business owners still have the responsibility to protector customer and employee information from becoming public. No matter the prevalence of data leaks in modern society, security is absolutely critical to prevent further incidents. What does this include? Firewalls, data encryption, varying administrative passwords and levels of clearances, and the monitoring of user activity. When security measures are joined together, they create a protective, digital mesh that surrounds an organization and guards it from potential thievery.
As reports trickle in that 2016 is shaping up to be the most devastating year on record for data loss, it is up to each and every business owner to do everything in their power to prevent personal data from being compromised. If data for 191 million voters was simply sitting exposed, the sky’s the limit for what else may be discovered in the near future.