Facebook hack included search history, location data of millions

Figurines are seen in front of the Facebook logo in this illustration

The hack, one of the worst in Facebook history, comes at a time when the social network is desperately trying to regain trust with its users.

Facebook's recent hack affected 30 million people, fewer than the company originally believed, but compromised sensitive information like people's phone numbers and email addresses.

Attackers stole authentication tokens for these 30 million accounts, but they also stole additional data for 29 million, Facebook said.

Rosen reiterates that people's accounts "have already been secured" by what Facebook did two weeks back when they prompted millions of users to reset the access tokens. For 14 million of those accounts, hackers got even more data, such as hometown, birthdate, the last 10 places they checked into or 15 most recent searches. But beyond learning what information the attackers accessed, there's relatively little that users can do - beyond, that is, watching out for suspicious emails or texts.

Facebook removes over 500 pages and 250 accounts accused of spreading false or misleading political information ahead of the midterm elections; Mega Millions $548 million jackpot is one of the largest on record.

This was clearly an intentional, malicious theft of user data from Facebook, and some of that data is very granular. On the Facebook Help Center users can check if they have been affected and what information may have been accessed. The attackers didn't take any information from about 1 million people whose accounts were vulnerable.

Rosen said Facebook has seen no evidence yet that the hackers have been using the stolen data.




Security experts have said Facebook's initial breach disclosure arrived earlier than it likely would have prior to the enactment in May of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates notification within 72 hours of learning of a compromise.

Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen said in a Friday call with reporters that the company hasn't ruled out the possibility that other parties might have launched other, smaller scale efforts to exploit the same vulnerability before it was disabled. The company said it will continue to investigate "other ways the people behind this attack used Facebook".

The only silver lining to this really dark cloud is that "Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Pages, payments, third-party apps, or advertising or developer accounts" have not been affected by this specific attack. Then, they "used an automated technique to move from account to account so they could steal the access tokens of those friends", and then friends of those friends.

News of the hack emerged on 5 October when Facebook said it feared 50m users had been affected.

Last month, Facebook announced it had been the target of a data breach potentially affecting up to 50 million users.

The Internet juggernaut is now cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation that's investigating the matter and has asked the company not to publicly speculate about the identity of the attackers until the probe is concluded.

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