News Analysis |
In a shocking revelation, the data of nearly 50 million Facebook users were breached. Facebook notified users of the Breach on the 28th of September, Friday. Apparently, hackers attempted to exploit a bug in Facebook’s code regarding the ‘View As’ feature. This feature allows users to see how their profile looks to someone else viewing it.
The “access tokens” that users use to keep them logged in were at risk of being stolen by the hackers. Possession of these tokens may allow hackers to take control of user accounts, according to Facebook. More details will come forth as the investigation goes on. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies have been notified and put on alert.
Businesses joined the fray soon afterward. Governments soon to use Facebook to present their stance on any given issue throughout the year.
This is not the first time such a revelation had made the news. The last year, in particular, had been tumultuous for the social media giant. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to make an appearance before the US Congress this year and answer questions pertaining to how Russia may have influenced the American presidential elections through social media platforms.
Although Zuckerberg came away from the hearing after successfully tackling many of the senators’ questions, doubts still remain over how secure the platform really is. The fact that Zuckerberg could handle questions at an American Congress hearing was more due to the ignorance of American senators about social media works than anything the Facebook CEO had to say.
It also emerged within the last year that Cambridge Analytica, a British based company that markets itself as a ‘data mining firm was involved in the theft of the data of nearly 90 million Facebook users. The firm was purportedly hired by the Trump campaign for the presidential elections. The data was stolen through a third party app-a personality quiz, one of the more popular categories of apps.
Third party apps are those applications that use the Facebook platform to reach their audience. They include video games, personality quizzes, self-help tools, productivity apps and more. What’s different about the data breach this time is that the hacking attempt was detected by Facebook before any third party was affected or involved. This probably means Facebook was able to clamp down on the data breach in time.
It’s not simply a matter of better encryption technologies. No expert worth his or her salt would argue that the perfect encryption is possible.
If any third party got hacked, that would mean the platform is not safe for developers who want to markets their products or apps through its platform. To deal with the problem at hand, Facebook reset login of users and now some 90 million accounts have been logged out of. Users will have to log in again. Facebook said in its blog that there’s no need to reset the passwords.
The affected users include anyone who has been subject to a ‘View As’ look over the previous year. What’s troubling, however, is that Facebook doesn’t know if the accounts hacked were misused. Zuckerberg admitted so in a call with the press, adding that Facebook doesn’t know who the attackers were or where they are based.
Read more: Britain to fine Facebook over data breach
A security expert at Rendition Infosec, Jake Williams, says that the stolen access tokens may have allowed the hackers to view private posts and even post status updates. Passwords, though, are unaffected. Facebook began under the guidance of Mark Zuckerberg nearly a decade and a half ago. Since then, it has grown to become the largest social media platform in the world, comprising nearly 2 billion users.
The platform is accessible in all the major languages of the world and the company is valued at over $570 billion. When the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit, the social media giant lost tens of billions of dollars. But the shares lost were recovered somewhat after Zuckerberg answered questions at the Congress hearing.
Facebook began innocuously enough. It was designed to allow better connectivity between students at first. Businesses joined the fray soon afterward. Governments soon to use Facebook to present their stance on any given issue throughout the year. It was thought at first that more and more connectivity was a good in itself. However, connectivity also brings together bad actors.
Furthermore, when the data of literally billions of people are up for grabs, there’s always the chance that hackers with devious motives will try to take advantage of it. It’s not simply a matter of better encryption technologies. No expert worth his or her salt would argue that the perfect encryption is possible. The legislation also needs to catch up with the technological development of the future if social media is to be safe and secure.