Face­book trims data breach to­tal to 29M users

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST -

SAN FRAN­CISCO Cy­ber at­tack­ers stole data from 29 mil­lion Face­book accounts us­ing an au­to­mated pro­gram that moved from one friend to the next, Face­book Inc said Fri­day, as the com­pany said its largest-ever data theft hit fewer than the 50 mil­lion pro­files it ini­tially re­ported.

The com­pany said it would mes­sage af­fected users over the com­ing days to tell them what type of in­for­ma­tion had been ac­cessed in the at­tack.

The breach has left users more vul­ner­a­ble to tar­geted phish­ing at­tacks and could deepen their un­ease about post­ing to a ser­vice whose pri­vacy, mod­er­a­tion and se­cu­rity prac­tices have been called into ques­tion by a series of scan­dals, cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts and fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts said.

The at­tack­ers took pro­file de­tails such as birth dates, em­ploy­ers, ed­u­ca­tion his­tory, re­li­gious pref­er­ence, types of de­vices used, pages fol­lowed and re­cent searches and lo­ca­tion check-ins from 14 mil­lion users. For the other 15 mil­lion users, it was re­stricted to name and contact de­tails.

Law­mak­ers and in­vestors have grown more con­cerned that Face­book is not do­ing enough to safe­guard data.

Face­book cut the num­ber of af­fected users from its orig­i­nal es­ti­mate af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­viewed ac­tiv­ity on accounts that may have been af­fected. Still, cy­ber se­cu­rity ex­perts warned that the mil­lions of users were at risk of at­tack.

“The bot­tom line is that all this data is still out there,” said Corey Mil­li­gan, a se­nior re­searcher with cy­ber-se­cu­rity firm Ar­mor Inc.

Face­book vice-pres­i­dent Guy Rosen told re­porters the FBI has asked the com­pany to limit de­scrip­tions of the at­tack­ers due to an on­go­ing in­quiry.

Rosen re­vealed that while the at­tack­ers’ in­tent has not been de­ter­mined, they did not ap­pear to be mo­ti­vated by the U.S. Con­gres­sional elec­tion sched­uled for Nov. 6.

He de­clined to break down the num­ber of users by coun­try.

Face­book said it was try­ing to de­ter­mine whether the at­tack­ers took ac­tions beyond steal­ing data, such as post­ing from accounts.

Hack­ers stole nei­ther per­sonal mes­sages nor fi­nan­cial data and did not use their ac­cess to users’ accounts on other web­sites, Face­book said.

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