85 million voter records on sale

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As the US midterm elections approaches, clandestine markets are full with voter registration databases

Researchers from a cybersecurity and digital forensics firm found 20 databases with voter registrations from different states available for purchase in different dark web forums.

According to experts in digital forensics from the International Institute of Cyber Security, the leaked data include voters’ personal identification information, such as full names, current and previous addresses, genres, phone numbers and city of residence, among other information.

The availability of this type of data exposes voters to sophisticated methods of identity theft and other types of fraud. Digital forensics experts discovered data related to more than 85 million voters in a total of 20 states. Most of the records belong to New York, with 15 million voters, and Florida, with 12.5 million, and is believed to have been available for sale since the beginning of September.

Experts warn of the availability of this kind of information and products in the dark web, tools that could be used to influence in the next electoral process in the United States, to be held in mid-November.

Information on thousands of followers on Instagram, likes on Facebook, views on YouTube and retweets on Twitter are available for just a small cryptocurrency fraction on the dark web. Some of the databases focus on selling targeted advertising, ensuring that advertising campaigns will find consumers’ response.

“The manipulation of social networks implies a relatively low investment, and hackers in the dark web seem to have tools ready to manipulate public opinion on the main platforms used by Americans”, experts said.

Experts also found that many hackers and hacker groups offer their services for hire to attack government organizations with various malicious purposes. “Some hackers offer services such as database manipulation, economic and corporate espionage, DDoS attacks and botnets rental”, the security report says.

The cost for these services ranges from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per attack campaign.

According to the digital forensics firm, election-focused cyber attacks pose real threats to Western political institutions; 68% of respondents, among the world’s leading cybersecurity professionals, consider the upcoming US legislative elections to be influenced by cyber attacks.

Experts believe that the cyber attacks carried out by national states are even more sophisticated; hackers sponsored by foreign governments seek to deploy political propaganda operations, such as those implemented in the 2016 presidential elections against the Democratic Party and several US officials.