An unprotected MongoDB database containing the personal details on every voter in the state of California has been stolen and held for ransom after being exposed to the public facing internet.

Kromtech Security Center researchers originally discovered this leak in early December after spotting the unprotected MongoDB database named “cool_db” available to anyone online with internet connection.

Unlike most attacks made by hackers, this data looks to be a part of the more than 32,000 MongoDB databases left exposed due to vulnerabilities in January. Databases containing California voter information may have belonged to a third party, such as a political action committee or a campaign.

The researchers claim a total of 19,264,123 records on California citizens was found open for public access, but they were not able to identify the owner of the database since it had been deleted by hackers and held up with a ransom note demanding .2 bitcoin ($2,325.01 at the time of discovery).

The 4GB leak contains sensitive information on voters, such as names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and place of birth.

The Secretary of State of California has not denied the claims and instead has hinted that the incident may be the result of third party negligence. In a statement made Friday, they claimed, “We are looking into unconfirmed reports that a third party may have uploaded some California voter information in an unsecure location online. We take any allegation of improper use of voter data very seriously, and have enlisted the support of law enforcement. There is no evidence that any of the Secretary of State’s systems have been hacked or breached or that any confidential information such as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state ID numbers, or voter signatures were disclosed. Under state law, limited voter data is made available for restricted use by campaigns, journalists, and academic researchers. It is illegal under state law to share or obtain this data without authorization.”


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