On the afternoon of Friday, 28 September, Facebook announced that 50 million Facebook accounts had been breached.
Facebook’s Vice President of Product Management, Guy Rosen, announced that the security breach affected 50 million users.
It is believed the attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code involving the “View As” feature, which allows people to see what their own profile looks like to someone else.
In a later post, Facebook explained that the vulnerability arose from a combination of three distinct bugs, which meant the attackers were able extract other users’ access tokens – the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged into the Facebook app.
The first bug occurred in the “View As” feature, allowing the user to upload a video in a happy birthday message.
Next, the video uploader incorrectly generated an access tag that had the permissions of the Facebook mobile app.
The third bug meant that the access token generated was for the user being looked up instead of the person doing the viewing.
Pedro Canahuati, Vice President of Engineering, Security and Privacy, said: “The attackers were then able to pivot from that access token to other accounts, performing the same actions and obtaining further access tokens.”
Who was affected?
It is not yet known if any Irish users were affected, or where the hacked accounts were based; Facebook has only confirmed that 50 million users were affected.
Mr Rosen stated that the cyber attack may also have given attackers access to other apps if a user had logged into them using their Facebook name and password, and said the firm was investigating whether there was any access to Instagram accounts.
Facebook says it has already fixed the vulnerability and reset the access tokens of the hacked accounts. Facebook has also issued guidance on the next steps to take.
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