Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Facebook hackers stole locations and other private data for millions of users

Facebook Image Facebook says lists of users' friends were trawled
Kelvin Reese | 14 October, 2018, 05:02

Facebook said it was working with the FBI in relation to the matter, while it also said it was co-operating with Ireland's Data Protection Commission, the US Federal Trade Commission and other authorities.

"Within two days, we closed the vulnerability, stopped the attack and secured people's accounts by restoring the access tokens for people who were potentially exposed", Facebook said.

Then, "for 15 million people, attackers accessed two sets of information - name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had on their profiles)". Originally Facebook said 50 million accounts were affected, but that it didn't know if they had been misused. While they procured access tokens for another one million Facebook users, the hackers did not steal any data in this case.

The hackers stole name and contact details for 29 million users, and took data including birth dates, employers, education and lists of friends from around 14 million users. And for 14 million more people, the hackers were able to get a lot more information, like username, gender, relationship status, religious, birthday, and a ton of other information including things you've searched for.

Earlier, Facebook had said that a security breach had affected the accounts of as many as 50 million people. And third-party apps weren't affected. Three software bugs in Facebook's code connected to this feature allowed attackers to steal Facebook access tokens they could then use to take over people's accounts.

Access tokens work sort of like a digital set of keys and are what allow you to stay logged in with the Facebook app rather than entering your password every time you want to access the site. On the Facebook Help Center users can check if they have been affected and what information may have been accessed. "If we find more Facebook accounts were impacted, we will reset their access tokens and notify those accounts". On September 25, we determined this was actually an attack and identified the vulnerability. The news quickly made headlines around the world causing many to worry about their own accounts.

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On that page, following some preliminary information about the investigation, the question "Is my Facebook account impacted by this security issue?" appears midway down. The attackers didn't take any information from about 1 million people whose accounts were vulnerable. Or you can click this link while signed into Facebook and scroll down.

"Once you've become a target, it never ends", he said.

In March, Facebook was hit by revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that had worked for the Trump campaign, had gained access to the private information of up to 87 million users.

This sort of personal detail can help identity thieves accomplish hacks for years into the future.

It will also provide guidance on how to spot and deal with suspicious emails or texts.

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