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Sensitive US Military Personnel Data Easily Bought from Brokers

Sensitive US Military Personnel Data Easily Bought from Brokers

A new study by researchers at the Duke University of Durham, NC, found that buying sensitive data about American military personnel from data brokers is “shockingly easy.” The study suggests that such easy access to military data can likely undermine U.S. national security.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) publication Technology Review called it an “unsettling study” that spanned the course of a year and approached the question of accessibility to sensitive military-related data with a focus on risks to privacy, safety, and national security. Authored by Justin Sherman and his team at the Duke University, the study included 12 American data brokers and found that it took just a couple hundred dollars to obtain very sensitive data on military personnel from these brokers.

The researchers say they were “shocked” at the ease with which they were able to obtain highly sensitive data about members of the military.

The study’s implications are alarming. As noted in the takeaways from the study on the university’s website, the data-selling business is “highly unregulated by the U.S. Government” and enables malicious hands, including foreign actors, to target active-duty military personnel, as well as veterans, and their families and acquaintances.

Technology Review noted that the results of this study are not new and reminded that back in 2018, a social networking app for athletes called Strava was found to reveal the secretive military bases and patrol routes to the app users.

It’s worth noting that data brokers selling this kind of information have a claim to have “strong vetting processes” that would prevent the wrong hands from acquiring their data.

Brokers are not the only sources of access to sensitive military personnel data. Security breaches happen at times and reveal protected information to the public. Earlier this year, such a breach led to a number of classified documents from the Pentagon appearing on social media platforms like Twitter and Telegram. These included military documents related to the Russia-Ukraine war. Shortly after the incident, 21-year-old Jack Teixeira of the Massachusetts Air National Guard was arrested and prosecuted for leaking the classified documents.

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  1. frank stetson

    If you hire a decent virus/id protection service, folks can disable a lot of this whether in the military or not.

    There was a broker out there with me, married to my dead mom, owning a house in another state. I tried to sell it, but could not….

    The virus/id protection folks found it, instructed me how to kill it, took a few calls/emails, but it is erased.

    As well as I am now erased from dozens of data brokers, cleaned up any dark web crap like passwords and such (all bad anyway), and more. Just part of life now, but can be dealt with for a few dollars.

    • Tom

      Are you cleaned up from Larry? What is a good dark web clean up the crap service?

      • frank stetson

        I’m not sure free speech extremism allows me to shout out a company for purchase. Might compete with Gilbertson’s dick enlargement pills.

        • Tom

          Holy crap! I did not know he uses enlargement pills.

          Well can you post a link in text discretely. You know like **?

        • Frank stetson

          I use aura tom: dropped price 50% from lifelock, adds three more folks, they don’t care who, adds features. Free vpn and phone security.

          Don’t use finances beyond checking; i got two and three factor plus acct. locks anyway. Don’t use pws, have better system.

          Have to remember to cancel call control when deliveries etc coming. They dhandle ai call assitwell.

          But pretty good and top notch american support. Lifelock went Philippines

          Just part of my new defense system and not the first time I’ve dimped norton…..

          They have been crushing dark web and data brokers. Got rid of many a mouse trail. .

          • Tom

            Good info! Thanks Frank!

          • Frank stetson

            Yeah, it rides on top of defenfer for virus protection but you can keep defender active for periodic scans as well. Pretty inventive.

            Call stuff rides on open standards too and basically overrides your voice mail. But with broadband, works pretty good. Needs better status indicators, have to check rather than be notified. I like voice to text mail though. Faster. Oppps, have to turn call assistant on. Panera delivery.tonight 😁

  2. Darren

    No one should be selling Military Anything period!
    But the leader of the Military is JOE BIDEN.
    When the Boss of any Agency is crooked what do you expect the underlings to be?
    As the Mafia or Biden’s Family would say, The Fish Rots at the Head First!

  3. Tom

    Darren, sorry to inform you but there are many ways military active and veteran info can be gotten by brokers. None of those ways have anything to do with Joe. Most of them have to do with outdated VA server security patches which allows hackers to get in and access data. Military servers are attacked all of the time. Other ways are by third party vendors and contractors that serve the military where military members have log-ons to their systems for some purpose. Sometimes a third party program being used by the military has an undiscovered flaw that can be exploited. Sometimes folks make real easy passwords or no password so they do not have the hassle. Read the first few paragraphs of this breach at **

    About ten years ago I was informed that my information was among information taken in a VA server hacking. It does not seem to have amounted to anything. I never found out which part of the VA had the attack, and nothing became of it.