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Facebook hackers accessed more private information than previously revealed

15 October, 2018, 05:34 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • Image brittany herbert  mashable

It was this vulnerability which allowed "an external actor" to obtain access tokens, giving them the ability to log into, and take over, users' Facebook accounts and any of their other services, such as Spotify, Instagram or Tinder, which accept Facebook access tokens. Initially, Facebook said that 50 million accounts could be attacked, but they did not know exactly whether the unauthorized use of the data.

For about half of those whose accounts were broken into - some 14 million people - the hackers looted extensive personal information such as the last 10 places that Facebook user checked into, their current city and their 15 most recent searches.

In the days since, Facebook has scrambled to figure out how things went wrong, who could be responsible for the attack and what the attackers planned to do with the information.

"The attackers already controlled a set of accounts, which were connected to Facebook friends". Namely, 20 million fewer accounts had their tokens stolen than what Facebook originally projected.

What can affected Facebook users do?

That breach allegedly related to a "view as" feature - described as a privacy tool to let users see how their profiles look to other people.

Could hackers have been able to see the last person you cyberstalked, or that party photo you were tagged in?

Previously, the company said only profile information exposed in the "View As" feature was accessed, which is basically a user's name, gender and hometown.

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Facebook users can check if they are affected by visiting the website's help centre.

Rosen said they found no reason yet to believe hackers were in interested in people's information, rather that it appeared the mission was to harvest access tokens from friends associated with breached accounts.

The cyber attackers, however, did not gain access to information of the accounts of one million people.

"We're cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack", Facebook said on a blog post.

"[The] investigation into the breach and Facebook's compliance with its obligations under GDPR continues". Once learning of the attack, Facebook said it had acted immediate to secure the site.

News of the hack emerged on 5 October when Facebook said it feared 50m users had been affected. That particular episode underlines the firm's issues on the digital privacy front as Facebook apparently didn't manage to find a scandal-free month to launch its smart speakers since the turn of the year and has now just conceded to do so amid yet another privacy debacle that compromised its users.

Security experts have said Facebook's initial breach disclosure arrived earlier than it likely would have prior to the enactment in May of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates notification within 72 hours of learning of a compromise. With an access token, an attacker could take over your account and use it as if they were you. The company said it hasn't ruled out the possibility of smaller-scale attacks that used the same vulnerability.

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