Recently—in a very shocking but not an unpredictable incident—Facebook was vulnerable to hackers who exploited a bug, and were able to access nearly 50m accounts, possibly gaining access to their private messages, posts, and pictures. This is considered the biggest-ever security breach after the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.
The hacking was revealed by Facebook in late September. The administration of the social media platform also revealed that the breach may have affected third-party applications, for instance, Tinder, that users may have logged into via Facebook, according to Economic Times.
As damage control, Facebook has logged close to 90 million users out of their current accounts, and it has informed law enforcement agencies in the United States about the hack, and investigations are currently underway regarding the incident.
Unfortunately for Facebook, that is not all. The ‘massive data breach’ may cause the company’s administration to face a fine from the European Union’s (EU) privacy watchdog. The find may amount to $1.63bn.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which is Facebook’s lead privacy regulator in Europe, has asked Facebook to submit more details concerning the incident, where the data of over 50 million users was hacked via ‘Access Tokens’ or digital keys.
The “privacy watchdog could fine Facebook as much as $1.63bn for the data breach,” the report added.
“We are concerned about the fact that this breach was discovered on Tuesday (last week) and affects many millions of user accounts, but Facebook is unable to clarify the nature of the breach, and the risk for users at this point,” the regulator was quoted as saying.
A Facebook spokesperson said that the social media giant will respond to questions from the EU watchdog, Economic Times reported.
Forbes has described the recent hack as an ‘internet catastrophe.’
“What is most worrying of all, is what the hack has proven: that a company with the resources and power of Facebook can be robbed of keys that allow access to millions of accounts across the web. Given the keys allowed the hacker to take over any account using a Facebook login, the real number of affected individuals is likely far higher than 50 million. A vast number of people have trusted Facebook would be able to keep their login information safe, just as they do with Google and other tech providers. Should Facebook’s rivals be trusted with people’s online security too? This week’s breach would suggest perhaps not,” Forbes said.
“While I’m glad we found this, fixed the vulnerability, and secured the accounts that may be at risk, the reality is we need to continue developing new tools to prevent this from happening in the first place.” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in reaction to the recent breach.
The major breach—as expected—has cast its shadow over Facebook’s shares in the stock exchange, which have dropped by over 3% of their market value, which reflects a loss of faith in the platform’s ability to maintain the privacy and safety of its users.
While some may say this scandal is the worst since the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in March 2017, Bloomberg begs to differ.
“Will the uproar be louder for this breach? It won’t, unless Facebook tells us what the hack actually exposed, or sought to accomplish. Cambridge Analytica touched a nerve because the consultancy that got the Facebook profile information went on to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. There was political intrigue wrapped up in the public’s sense of betrayal. Without that, the news is similar to dozens of other hacks of major companies—devastating in theory, but with intangible effects.” Bloomberg said.
This is not Facebook’s first time to fall for such incidents, which may only cause a state of distrust among its users on the platform and give them more reasons to exit social media.
Facebook has a lot on its plate, however, according to Bloomberg, just as it had plenty of other problems in the last week. On Wednesday a report was released detailing how the company is using phone numbers provided for security purposes to target people with advertisements. Can it gain the trust of its users back sometime soon? We will just have to wait and see.