STOLEN data from some 110million US voters is allegedly up for sale on the dark web including addresses, phone numbers and IDs.
The US Sun discovered a massive trove of election data in the internet’s hidden layer where users can also buy drugs, credit card details and fake IDs.
Data was on sale from a user named “GoldApple” who claimed to have databases from 27 states and was selling them all for just $100.
The mysterious seller claimed to have “voter IDs, full names, physical addresses, dates of birth, genders, phone numbers, citizen status”.
More than one hundred million voters were listed, with the largest cache of information being from New York, with 15million, and Florida, 12.5million.
Voter security has come under fresh scrutiny as Donald Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him.
Cyber security experts however assured The US Sun that it is very unlikely – if not impossible – to use this data for the fraud being alleged by Trump.
Hackers may have broken into databases or cracked stolen devices to scoop up poorly-secured voter information – then matched it with other data online to create a neat package.
Experts explained this data is likely to be used by troublemakers seeking to influence voters with targeted propaganda.
Sadly, it is very likely that some of the data is legitimate. The data on the dark web for sale is very likely stolen
Ivan Righi, a cyber threat intelligence analyst for the firm, said such data could be used to spread misinformation or propaganda to to try and influence elections.
He told The US Sun: “Threat actors could use this data while conducting criminal activities, such as delivering targeted social engineering attacks, such as phishing, vishing, or smishing.
“It is also realistically possible that this data could be used for other malicious purposes, such as harassment or stalking.”
He added while voter databases can often be obtained legimately from state authorities, criminals may often steal and sell the database – sometimes exposing it for free.
However, he assured its “unlikely” that such a database could be used to commit voter fraud as the information required to request a ballot is much more private.
Russia and Iran are previously known to have used stolen personal information combined with voter records to sow unrest leading up to the 2020 election.
Databases of personal information remain one of the top items for sale by criminals on the dark web.
The dark web is a layer of the internet which can only be accessed by certain secretive browsers and is a haven for crooks and paedophiles.
It has become a major problem for law enforcement as it is extremely difficult to track down who is on the other end of the screen.
And the revelation follows a massive cyber attack in which hackers stole data from federal agencies – in a swoop believed to have been orchestrated by Russia.
Theresa Payton, the first female chief intelligence officer at the White House, CEO of Fortalice Solutions, told The US Sun it was “difficult” to use this information for election fraud.
She explained: “That bulk sale of easy to use information could be used to target companies, government organizations, and individuals through convincing spear phishing and social engineering campaigns.
“It could be possible to try to commit fraud using this information but it would be hard to pull off at scale.
“Sadly, it is very likely that some of the data is legitimate.”
She added: “The data on the dark web for sale is very likely data stolen in past historical hacks matched to publicly available data.”
Ms Payton said the sheer volume of information found by The US Sun on the dark web was “very concerning” – but added sadly it is “very common”.
Ms Payton added: “Not much can be done to stop the information flow of US voter data unless a new way of registering voters and sharing information is reimagined. Perhaps, now is the time.”
Cyber security firm Digital Shadows revealed to The US Sun they had also been tracking “GoldApple” who they found had more than 1,600 listings on various dark web marketplaces.
What is the dark web?
IT is the shadowy underbelly of the internet, used to hide illegal activity online.
Only accessible via special software, the dark web has become a major problem for global law enforcement agencies.
The internet is actually made up of three different layers: the surface web, the deep web and the dark web.
he top layer, the surface web, are web pages that show up using search engines such as Google – like The Sun website that you’re looking at right now.
The deep web are web pages which search engines can’t access and are therefore hidden, accessed via passwords and authorisation.
Any time you log into an account you’re accessing deep web content that won’t show up on a search engine.
For example, work intranets, password-protected areas of online banking and draft blog posts are all stored on the deep web.
The dark web is a network of untraceable online activity and websites on the internet.
The dark web was actually created by the US government to allow spies to exchange information completely anonymously.
US military researchers developed the technology, known as Tor (The Onion Router) in the mid-1990s and released it into the public domain for everyone to use.
Russia and Iran have both been accused of using such information to meddle in US elections.
In on example, Democrats received emails that were mocked up to look like they came from pro-Trump white nationalist group the Proud Boys.
They demanded the registered blue voters flip to Trump, and it came just weeks after the President’s “stand back and stand by” comments on the debate stage.
Dr Tim Stevens, the head of the Cyber Security Research Group at King’s College London, told The US Sun this type information can likely be used for “stirring up trouble” in elections – citing the Iran case.
“If it is cross matching data, that is pretty powerful information. We have been talking for years about if you join the dots you can develop quite sophisticated profiles of people,” he warned, but said its unclear if that is the case with this data.
The expert said marketing companies and intelligence agencies could make use this information potentially for “political microtargeting” to sway votes – especially if they can snap up large bundles of data.
Dr Stevens added: “We don’t need a wake-up call for the public, and we have had wake-up calls for government and industry – they have to be the ones to fix this.”
Dr Mostafa Tajdini, from the school of computer at Staffordshire University, told The US Sun “every hour” data gets leaked and ends up on the dark web – with half a million people’s information being exposed in November alone.
“This data could be used to run phishing attacks on people,” he said.
Edward Garb, a cybersecurity analyst at Atlas VPN, added data leaks are increasing due to a surge in remote working amid the pandemic – with 36billion files being exposed in 2020.
President Trump continues to claim an elaborate, massive, multi-state conspiracy was executed against him to “steal” the election – despite Joe Biden being confirmed by the electoral college.
Trump and his team have so far offered no evidence, and have not yet won any meaningful court battles to overturn the results.
Addressing President Trump’s refusal to concede or accept the vote of the 2020 election, Mr Biden said: “The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens of legal challenges.”
“They were heard again and again. And each of the times they were heard they were found to be without merit.”
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Mr Biden’s victory saw him take 81,282,376 votes compared to Trump’s 74,222,576 in the popular vote, and 306 electoral college votes to 232.
The victory was declared by major television networks on November 7, but has still not been acknowledged by Trump.
Just days before the college met, Trump tweeted: “MOST CORRUPT ELECTION IN U.S. HISTORY.”
His most die-hard fans and closest allies also continue to back his claims, with Trump insisting his election challenges are “not over”.
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