According to a recent report, Kentucky remains one of the 19 states whose voter records have been displayed on the Dark web forum for sale. Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky Secretary of State has quickly reacted to the incident by partnering with the Department of the Homeland Security and other relevant agencies to investigate the case. In her report, she emphasized that the protection of elections and Kentucky citizens’ voter records was her top priority. She also expressed her concern that releasing information to the public domain will underscore the efforts of the cybersecurity agents.
A credible source recently reported that over 35 million voter records of America citizens had been spotted on the online black market. The exposed records belong to citizens across nearly half of the country including Kentucky. They then ran a check on the validity of the data, and it turned out that the data was valid and highly confidential. According to the report, the vendor sold the voter records as low as $150 and as high as $12,500.
Another report indicates that the price attached to each voter record depends on the state. The voter records of Kentucky are being sold for $2,000, while those of Wisconsin are being sold for $12,500. That means buying voter data in battleground states is more expensive.
This incident raised the alarm because things can get worse when the data gets into the hands of criminals. The report stated that the vendor obtained 23 million voter records from just three states.
States which had their voter records leaked:
As claimed by the Anomalies lab researchers and Intel 471, a vendor was spotted on October 5, 2018 advertising tens of millions of the acquired voter records on the forum. The data includes the names, phone numbers, physical addresses and voting histories of the victims. Also, some of the suspects purchased the database to distribute them to participants who take part in an ongoing crowdfunding project on the Dark Web. Another criminal promised to give out the acquired voter data to each registered member of a hacking forum on the platform. The report revealed that the data of Kansas had been acquired and published.
Another crowdfunding project was underway which sought to purchase the database of another state for the contributors. According to the researchers, the group members voted for the data of Oregon to be acquired and published once the crowdfunding goal was reached.
The purchase of such data on the Dark web can lead to a severe criminal incident including identity theft. Also, this can lead to voter fraud. It is expected that authorities will take action before the worst happens.
The report provides a hint that the data leak may not be a technical one, but a direct distribution of information from a leaker within the government.
On the forum, the vendor indicated that they get weekly updates of the voter records. In most cases, the vendor travels to the said states to receive the voter record updates provided by someone who is within the government domain. If this happens to be the case, it means the authorities will have to deal with the case from within, instead of fully concentrating on the technical leakages.
The leakage of voter data of US citizens on the dark web is not new. In 2016, authorities identified a vendor on one of the dark web websites selling voter records for a $7,800 bulk rate. It is rational to link this incidence to impending elections. The leaks may be a result of the purchasing of voter records from third parties who share or sell them to campaigners. Most of the election campaigns are made through emails and phone number messaging. This act in a way makes it possible for data to end up in the hands of dark web vendors. Hong Kong recorded a similar incident last year, indicating that the Dark web makes good sales out of such data.
Voter records and credit cards have been a hot business on the dark web. Authorities have employed measures by going undercover on these platforms to arrest individuals behind the act.
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