Facebook has found a leak in its social network that allowed hackers access to personal information from 50 million users. The share of the site dipped 3 percent after the announcement of the news.
The company has closed the leak and informed the authorities. Facebook is now investigating whether the hackers have actually captured data from users. The cyber criminals used an error in the code of the ‘View As’ function, which allows Facebook users to see what their profile looks like to others. That function is now temporarily disabled.
The leak occurred last year in July when Facebook adapted the function to upload videos. A kind of ‘digital key’ could be stolen via the leak that would keep users logged in, so that they do not have to enter their password each time they use the app but user passwords have not fallen into the hands of the hackers.
The keys of the almost 50 million accounts were now erased, and as a precaution, those of 40 million other accounts that used the ‘View As’ function last year. Ninety million people will therefore have to log in again on Facebook or other apps using the Facebook login, it explained. People were also logged out in many countries for security reasons.
During a conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke of an “important security problem” that was discovered Tuesday and closed last night. The investigation into the “serious issue” is still ongoing and is in an “early phase”, he says. Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users, must continue to work to avoid such leaks in the future. The social network is “continuously attacked” by hackers who want to take over accounts or steal information, according to Zuckerberg, Facebook does not yet know where the hackers came from.
The company has informed the Irish privacy watchdog Data Protection Commission (DPC). Though the European headquarters of Facebook is located in Ireland. The privacy watchdog is worried about the little information it got from Facebook. The DPC is also surprised that Facebook already discovered the leak Tuesday but “does not understand what kind of risk its users are running”. The DPC says to continue to press on Facebook to get more clarity.
The cyber-attack comes at a very inconvenient time and is not the first scandal that hits Facebook this year. In the spring, the company had to announce that data researcher Cambridge Analytica had received data from 85 million Facebook users from an employee. Topman Zuckerberg was then even heard in the US Congress.
After the news of the security breach became known today, the share of Facebook is 3 percent lower.
Source: New York Times, AFP, Bloomberg, anp