Heritage Foundation confirms that breach was a leak, not hack

As an update to the Heritage Foundation data leak previously covered here:

Politico reporter Dave Perera got in touch with me about my reporting that The Heritage Foundation (THF) was not hacked – as they had claimed – but had had a leak. Perera and Tim Starks have now reported that they got confirmation from THF that yes, it was a leak. Their article is behind a paywall, but says, in relevant part:

Heritage spokesman Wesley Denton said files containing personally identifiable information were publicly available on the Internet – without password protection – even though they were meant to be kept private.

He said the files were mistakenly included with research papers hosted by Amazon’s cloud computing service.

So they wouldn’t answer DataBreaches.net’s request for confirmation, but when Politico came calling, they did? Oh well… this site did its job by exposing the truth and I’m glad that they’ve now acknowledged it was a leak. I wonder what they told their donors, though, in their notifications. Donor information that was leaked included names, postal and email addresses, phone numbers, amount and history of donations to THF, notes about contacts with them, and in some cases, personal family details that recruiters might want to keep in mind when contacting them, such as the donors’ motivation, kids’ names, etc.

Perera and Stark also report that the GSA did not respond to their inquiry about an exposed file containing the contact details of federal and White House employees. That 79MB compressed file was from John Horton, who had worked for GSA before joining THF. The timestamp on the file suggests it may have been uploaded to the server in November 2009.

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