Facebook has been going through a massive decline of trust in recent times. And to make matters worse, it has witnessed another massive security breach, last week. On Friday, Facebook announced that nearly 50M Facebook accounts have been compromised by an attack that gave hackers the ability to take over users’ accounts. This security breach has not only affected user’s Facebook accounts but also impacted other accounts linked to Facebook. This means that a hacker could have accessed any account of yours that you log into using Facebook.
This security issue was first discovered by Facebook on Tuesday, September 25. The hackers have apparently exploited a series of interactions between three bugs related to Facebook’s “View As” feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. The hackers stole Facebook access tokens to take over people’s accounts. These tokens allow an attacker to take full control of the victim’s account, including logging into third-party applications that use Facebook Login.
“I’m glad we found this and fixed the vulnerability,” Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters on Friday morning. “But it definitely is an issue that this happened in the first place. I think this underscores the attacks that our community and our services face.”
As of now, this vulnerability has been fixed and Facebook has contacted law enforcement authorities. The vice-president of product management, Guy Rosen, said that Facebook was working with the FBI, but he did not comment on whether national security agencies were involved in the investigation.
As a security measure, Facebook has automatically logged out 90 million Facebook users from their accounts. These included the 50 million that Facebook knows were affected and an additional 40 million that potentially could have been. This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in Facebook code. It originated from a change made to Facebook’s video uploading feature in July 2017, which impacted “View As.”
Facebook says that the affected users will get a message at the top of their News Feed about the issue when they log back into the social network. The message reads, “Your privacy and security are important to us, We want to let you know about recent action we’ve taken to secure your account.” The message is followed by a prompt to click and learn more details.
Facebook has also publicly apologized stating that, “People’s privacy and security is incredibly important, and we’re sorry this happened. It’s why we’ve taken immediate action to secure these accounts and let users know what happened.”
This is not the end of misery for Facebook. Some users have also tweeted that they are unable to post Facebook’s security breach coverage from The Guardian and Associated Press. When trying to share the story to their news feed, they were met with the error message which prevented them from sharing the story. The error reads, “Our security systems have detected that a lot of people are posting the same content, which could mean that it’s spam. Please try a different post.”
People have criticized Facebook’s automated content flagging tools. This is an example of how it tags legitimate content as illegitimate, calling it spam. It has also previously failed to detect harassment and hate speech. However, according to updates on Facebook’s Twitter account, the bug has now been resolved.
Following up – people should be able to share both articles now. Sorry for the inconvenience.
— Facebook (@facebook) September 28, 2018
The security breach comes at a time when the social media company is already facing multiple criticisms over issues such as foreign election interference, misinformation and hate speech, and data privacy.
Recently, an Indie Taiwanese hacker also gained popularity with his plan to take down Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page and broadcast it live. However, soon he grew cold feet and said he’ll refrain from doing so after receiving global attention following his announcement. “I am canceling my live feed, I have reported the bug to Facebook and I will show proof when I get a bounty from Facebook,” he told Bloomberg News.
It’s high time that Facebook began taking it’s user privacy seriously, probably even going in the lines of rethinking it’s algorithm and platform entirely. They should also take responsibility for the real-world consequences of actions enabled by Facebook.