In a major cybersecurity lapse, Facebook has witnessed a massive hack and a result, personal data including phone numbers and other sensitive information has been hacked and leaked in the public. The affected users belong to more than 106 countries and the sensitive nature of the data being held by big social media companies is under heavy scrutiny and debate again.
The motivation behind the recent data hack is now up for debate as the leak itself was put online in a low level hacking forum. The data is sensitive and it will be among the biggest privacy breaches in recent history. Normally, hackers snoop the data and then usually blackmail the parent company for ransom. But, so far no such news has been reported in the media so it might be possible that everything is being kept under wraps for now. If the hackers aren’t successful in getting their ransom amount, they simply leak the data online and expose the users.
According to latest information available, in addition to phone numbers, the 532 million users also lost full names, location, email address, physical address and biographical information in the hack. Online criminals looking to hack into these people will have it much easier now with access to this information. The all-too familiar issue of impersonation and digital identity theft will also be made easy for the digital assailants and it is a big security threat for citizens around the world.
All in all, over 32 million users in USA, 11 million uses in the UK and around 6 million users in the India were compromised. Everyone can currently access the information and initial checks with known IDs show that the data leak is accurate and these are actual people whose information was leaked online
According to a spokesperson from Facebook, the data is over 2 years old and was due to a security breach which was patched by the company just after the breach itself. But, since the users and their primary contacts hardly change over time, it is still extremely worrying to see the data public and potentially in the hands of the scammers and online criminals.
The full scale of the attack’s ramifications will be available in the coming weeks or so. The company will apologize profusely but it is time that serious efforts be made into the data security of users of social media platforms. Blockchain technology and decentralization are important tools that can be used to create immutable, encrypted databases that are only in the control of the users themselves. But, Facebook and others are likely to resist this move as they don’t want to part ways with the treasured data that they like to analyze and run ads with.
Image Source: Wes McGovan under CC
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