Exactis says it provides the information to marketing partners and its 400 different points of data include "demographic, geographic, lifestyle, interests, automotive, behavioral", and more.
Florida-based marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis exposed a database containing almost 340 million individual records on a publicly accessible server, Wired reported.
"It seems like this is a database with pretty much every USA citizen in it", said Troia, who is the founder of New York-based security company Night Lion Security.
They also record their hobbies, interests and habits, as well as the number, age, and gender of any children they have.
The server has since been secured, but this is another worrying tale of a company hoarding personal data with a lack of regard for security and privacy. The amount of personal information that was exposed could still help scammers impersonate or profile them.
Exactis is not a company that I had even heard about until today, but apparently, they have probably heard of me.
Vinny Troia, the security researcher who discovered the leak and reported it to Exactis - which he said has since protected the data - told this publication Thursday that he looked for about 40 or 50 names and everybody he searched for came up.
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According to Wired, a security researcher stumbled upon an Exactis database that was wide open to the internet.
It's certainly possible, given that the Exactis database was indexed online, according to Troia, who leads his own security firm Night Lion Security.
Troia added, "I don't know where the data is coming from, but it's one of the most comprehensive collections I've ever seen". While it's publicly accessible, the server wouldn't have been found with a simple Google search, and anyone looking to obtain such information would have to know where to look. If the numbers on Exactis' website are correct, this could potentially be one of the largest data security breaches in some time, beating the Equifax breach of previous year and the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal which saw the private info of 87 million Facebook users allegedly left vulnerable.
The official Exactis website says it is "a leading compiler and aggregator of premium business and consumer data with over 3.5 billion records".
"It is worth noting that just because the server was left open to the public does not mean it was stolen by malicious hackers, but we can not be certain". This is significantly more than those exposed during the Equifax breach past year.
Hackers have been handed an easy win, thanks to a little known marketing firm that collected data on millions of Americans and leaked it online. "This is more information that other people can use to create scams or do fraudulent activities".