A massive online database that contained information of over 123 million households in the U.S. was found online and unsecured earlier this year, said researchers on Tuesday.
The data repository, which was cloud-based, was left unsecured online by Alteryx, a marketing analytics firm and exposed several personal details about almost every household in the U.S., according to an online security firm.
The data exposed consumers to several types of nefarious activity from identity theft to spamming, warned researchers.
Although no names were included in the data exposed, the data included 248 data fields that covered a variety of specific personal data that included address, gender, age, education, marital status and occupation.
Other fields exposed included financial and mortgage information, number of children within the household and phone numbers.
A number of recent breaches of databases had left many consumers concerned about the security online of their private data.
After Equifax the credit reporting agency revealed last September that criminals had hacked their database and took data of over 145 million people in the U.S., lawmakers in Congress started efforts to hold those businesses accountable to the people whose information they collect for profit.
This database was discovered two months ago in an Amazon Web Services misconfigured S3 cloud storage bucket said researchers. That allowed access to anyone that had an account which does not cost anything to have.
The data repository contained huge numbers of data sets that belonged to Experian a partner of Alteryx. Experian is a consumer crediting reporting company that is competition to Equifax, and the United States Census Bureau, said researchers.
Apparently Alteryx purchased this data from the marketing database of Experian ConsumerView, a product that is sold to other businesses and contains both publicly available data and that which is more personal.
The researchers said that data exposed in the bucket was invaluable to unscrupulous marketers, identity thieves and spammers for whom the data would be reliable and more important varied.
With such a large database of possible victims to survey, including details like mortgage ownership available, a common security question for verification, the ultimate price might be far more than just some bad publicity.
Data breaches from retailers’ point of sale terminals to the Equifax system have consumers worried about the overall security online as they increase the amount of money they spend on the internet.