The personal data of some 123 million U.S. households has been compromised in a massive data breach involving the computer software and data analytics company Alteryx.
Data compromised from the breach includes names, addresses, phone numbers, age, ethnicity, personal interest and credit information. The breach did not expose Social Security numbers or financial data. Alteryx acquired this data from Experian and the U.S Census Bureau.
As reported by LA Times, Alteryx accidentally exposed the data by hosting it on an unsecured Amazon Web Services (AWS) server. Because the server wasn’t secure, anyone could essentially access the database. However, it was cybersecurity professional Chris Vickery who initially discovered the database on October 6, 2018.
It’s not uncommon for companies to store data on AWS. In fact, AWS is the leading cloud platform among U.S. businesses. When sensitive data is stored in AWS, however, businesses must ensure the server is protected; otherwise, there’s a very real risk of data breaches occurring.
In response to the recent data breach, Alteryx Chief Executive Dean Stoecker said his company has since removed the database and added an extra layer of security to the AWS server on which it was stored. It’s unknown at this time whether Alteryx will offer identity protection services to those affected by the breach.
Based in Irvine, California, Alteryx rose to fame in 2000 by signing a deal with the U.S Census Bureau, allowing for the sale of its exclusive Allocate software. In 2015, the company formed an alliance with Microsoft to streamline data analysis using Power BI. Just one year later, Alteryx ranked #24 on Forbes’ Cloud 100 list.
News of this data breach reignites concerns regarding the sale of personal data by credit card bureaus to third-party companies. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are known to sell such data to third-party companies, oftentimes unbeknownst to the individuals whose data is being sold.
Furthermore, Equifax suffered a massive data breach earlier this year in which 143 million person records were disclosed, including Social Security numbers. This triggered numerous lawsuits, including a class-action suit led by Geragos & Geragos. Members of the suit are seeking $70 billion, making this the country’s largest class-action suit to date.
While the Equifax and Alteryx data breaches are high-profile cases, they are just notable examples of data breaches. Business owners and consumers alike must take a proactive approach towards securing their data.