Ex­perts say se­ri­ous changes needed

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JONATHAN NG — jonathan.ng@boston­her­ald.com

Cy­ber­se­cu­rity and so­cial me­dia ex­perts agree that tighter reg­u­la­tions are needed to re­store trust in Face­book’s brand.

“Th­ese small vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties within their vast plat­form al­low hack­ers to gain ac­cess,” said Vir­ginia Tech pro­fes­sor Aaron Brantly, who teaches about cy­ber­se­cu­rity mat­ters. “Be­cause Face­book col­lects so much in­for­ma­tion on its users, they can eas­ily con­trib­ute to iden­tify fraud.”

Last week, Face­book an­nounced that up­wards of 30 mil­lion users’ data — in­clud­ing search and lo­ca­tion his­to­ries — were com­pro­mised in what the com­pany says is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. For 15 mil­lion ac­counts breached, at­tack­ers were able to ac­cess name, phone num­ber and email, de­pend­ing on what users had on their pro­files. Hack­ers were also able to ac­cess birth­date, ed­u­ca­tion, work, pages they fol­low, and most re­cent search his­tory from 14 mil­lion other Face­book users.

Brantly points to the Euro­pean Union’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion, a law that “will make peo­ple aware of how their data is be­ing stored and used” as an ex­am­ple of reg­u­la­tion done right. If im­ple­mented here in the U.S., com­pa­nies such as Face­book, Google, Ap­ple and Twit­ter would need to “no­tify of any breaches im­me­di­ately.”

David Ger­zof Richard, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sor at Emer­son Col­lege who runs his own tech com­pany, BIG­fish PR, said that “trans­parency about what is hacked and how it was ac­cessed” is key to restor­ing con­fi­dence.

“They cre­ated a very sim­ple way to check if your ac­count was hacked,” he said. “Had I been hacked, I would’ve erased my Face­book. What­ever hap­pens at this point, I don’t know if I will have con­trol over where my data is go­ing. I would be so an­gry that a com­pany will leave my in­for­ma­tion open like that.”

Richard said there’s an op­por­tu­nity for Face­book to win the trust of its users and it comes from how the com­pany han­dles the sit­u­a­tion and whether it will “in­no­vate the right method­ol­ogy and pro­cesses to en­sure it never hap­pens again.”

Face­book is re­port­edly spend­ing $1.75 mil­lion on ads to re­build trust af­ter a litany of scan­dals plagued the plat­form, in­clud­ing the Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica brouhaha.

At the end of the day, both aca­demics agree that it will be dif­fi­cult to aban­don and delete your Face­book ac­count.

“This is how they com­mu­ni­cate in their com­mu­ni­ties,” said Brantly.


THUMBS UP OR THUMBS DOWN? Hacks have plagued Face­book, head­quar­tered at 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, Calif.

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