Facebook breaches 50M users' security, stock dives

Sunday, September 30, 2018
 | 
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergAfter discovering a security breach earlier this week exposing nearly 50 million user accounts, Facebook has seen its stock plunge 3.3 percent on the NASDAQ stock market, dropping it down to $163.13.

“[The breach is] the latest in a series of missteps that are undermining confidence in the company’s social network and business model,” Newsmax reported. “The social-media network said in a statement Friday that it has fixed the breach, which allowed hackers to take over people’s accounts, [and] law enforcement authorities and regulators – including the Irish Data Protection Commissioner – have been told about the incident.”

Facebook’s ongoing problems took a huge toll on the entire industry.

“This saw Wall Street fall from stock market highs earlier today and was the biggest drag on the benchmark S&P 500 – leading to a 0.55 percent drop in the revamped communication services sector,” the United Kingdom’s Express.co.uk announced.

Hackers’ paradise?

The orchestrated breach gave hackers access to tens of millions of Facebook accounts in a covert operation that – at the least – inconvenienced nearly 100 million Facebook customers.

“Facebook had revealed attackers managed to exploit a feature that allowed the perpetrators to take over scores of user accounts,” the British daily’s Paul Withers informed. “This came after more than 90 million Facebook users were forced to log out of their accounts earlier [Friday] as a safety precaution.”

The latest breach is just the latest of Facebook’s problems.

“[The hack job] is the latest black eye for the social media giant – and one that just prompted a leading legislator to renew calls for regulation,” NASDAQ.com noted. “The extent of the breach, who was behind it, when it originated and whether personal information was accessed by the attackers is unclear, the company said.”

Hosing down the fire …

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg divulged that a feature in Facebook’s code in users’ accounts was exploited by attackers before he vowed that the social media giant will take more preventative measures to protect customers moving forward.

“We need to do more to prevent this from happening in the first place,” Zuckerberg impressed during a conference call Friday, according to Newsmax.

Zuckerberg talked about the exploited feature in the call with reporters.

"We are still in the early phases of investigating this," Zuckerberg notified the press during the call on Friday, according to NASDAQ.com. "We do not yet know if any of the accounts were actually misused."

The day after Facebook discovered the breach Tuesday afternoon, it alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the vulnerability was patched the following day on Thursday, the social media guru announced before assuring the media that his company – based in California’s Silicon Valley – is taking care of the problem amidst the increasing electronic attacks on its massive Internet platform.

"As I have said … security is an arms race, and we continue to improve our defenses," Zuckerberg insisted. "This will be an ongoing effort."

Facebook Vice President of Product Management Guy Rosen made another attempt at damage control to diffuse the security fears of its 2 billion users, but he conceded that Facebook has still not gotten to the bottom of the breach during its newly launched investigation.

“On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 25, our engineering team discovered a security issue affecting almost 50 million accounts,” Rosen stated in a post on Facebook’s news website. "We're taking this incredibly seriously and wanted to let everyone know what's happened and the immediate action we've taken to protect people's security. Our investigation is still in its early stages, but it's clear that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook's code that impacted ‘View As’ – a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else.”

Defining the problem

Facebook’s latest dilemma has forced the company, once again, to explain why it has allowed its users’ personal information to be compromised.

“User data leaks, security breaches and the spread of misinformation have forced Facebook to confront hostile congressional hearings and uproar from users,” Newsmax announced. “This week’s breach adds to concerns the company is collecting too much personal information and not looking after it properly. Data is the lifeblood of Facebook’s advertising business, so any limits on its activities that stem from these missteps could crimp the company’s earning power.”

Officials in Washington have moved to hold Facebook accountable, while officials in Europe are demanding that Facebook be more transparent about what is really going on concerning the extent of the latest data breach.

“U.S. Senator Mark Warner – the top Democrat [vice chair] on the Senate Intelligence Committee – said the breach was ‘deeply concerning’ and called for an investigation,” the Newsmax report continued. “Ireland’s data-protection regulator said Facebook hasn’t shared enough information about the attack.”

With Facebook’s latest security breach, the senator from Virginia contended that Washington needs to do more to make sure that technology giants holding mass amounts of personal information take every measure possible to keep it safe.

"Today's disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures," Warner notified in a statement shortly after Facebook's disclosure, according to NASDAQ.com. "This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users. As I've said before – the era of the Wild West in social media is over."

Facebook coders evidently did not take the necessary precautions and measures to ensure users’ accounts did not have any vulnerabilities that would allow a hacker to access their information.

“There was a loophole in Facebook’s code for a feature called ‘View As’ that let people see what their account looks like to someone else,” Newsmax explained. “The vulnerability allowed hackers to steal access tokens – digital keys that keep people logged into Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter passwords. Once logged in, the attackers could take control.”

Facebook attempted to explain the matter to the public, but admitted that it had no knowledge as to whether hackers were able to gather or misuse any personal information from the 50 million breached accounts.

“This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code,” Facebook disclosed, according to Newsmax. “It stemmed from a change we made to our video uploading feature in July 2017 – which impacted ‘View As,’ The attackers not only needed to find this vulnerability and use it to get an access token, they then had to pivot from that account to others to steal more tokens.”

Not the first time … probably not the last …

A number of scandals, controversies and failings have plagued Facebook in recent years, making the social media giant have to explain its irresponsible behavior to the public again and again.

“Friday's disclosure is just the latest headache for Facebook, which has invested heavily in security measures following a series of privacy breaches and foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election that have undercut its reputation and battered it on Wall Street,” NASDAQ.com’s Jon Swartz recounted. “Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have testified before Congress on steps the company is taking to protect the privacy of its 2.23 billion monthly active users.”

A greater number of Facebook users’ personal information was compromised just months ago.

“The Cambridge Analytica scandal from earlier this year – which involved a developer handing over Facebook user profile information to a third party – affected as many as 85 million people and led to a congressional hearing,” Newsmax recounted. “This new vulnerability is potentially worse because it let hackers log in as the holder of the account – giving them access to information that was not otherwise public.”

Just months ago, Zuckerberg found himself in the midst of yet another controversy when he discounted the words of an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier on his platform – even though Facebook has often taken harsh stances against hate speech aimed at Muslims and the LGBT community. He subsequently attempted to backpedal from his comments, which did not impress most of the leftist billionaire’s critics.

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