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Facebook Private Message Hack: Are We Going to Be Affected?

This hack comes on the heels of another hack detected in October.

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Hackers have gained access to private messages of nearly 120 million Facebook accounts and already published such messages from 81,000 accounts, the BBC reported on 2 November.

Several users whose details have been compromised were based in Ukraine and Russia but some were also from the UK, US, Brazil and elsewhere, the BBC report said on Friday.

Facebook hasn’t mentioned India in this list, which we hope is a sign that people in the country haven’t been affected by the latest Facebook breach. But we’re likely to hear more about this incident from the social networking giant in the coming days.

"The hackers offered to sell access for 10 cents per account. However, their advert has since been taken offline," the report added. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were reportedly obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions.

Facebook, however, said its systems were not breached by this hack.

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"We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores," Guy Rose, Vice President of Product Management at Facebook, was quoted as saying.

"We have also contacted law enforcement and have worked with local authorities to remove the website that displayed information from Facebook accounts." Rose added.

The BBC Russian Service contacted five Russian Facebook users whose private messages had been uploaded and confirmed the posts were theirs.

"One example included photographs of a recent holiday, another was a chat about a recent Depeche Mode (British rock band) concert and a third included complaints about a son-in-law," the report said.

In the biggest-ever security breach after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook on 28 October admitted that hackers broke into nearly 50 million users' accounts by stealing their "access tokens" or digital keys.

Rosen had said that Facebook fixed the vulnerability and reset the access tokens for a total of 90 million accounts – 50 million that had access tokens stolen and 40 million that were subject to a "View As" bug which was detected back in 2017. To deal with the issue, Facebook had reset logins of 90 million users that had been logged out of their account.

Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), which is Facebook's lead privacy regulator in Europe, has opened a formal investigation into this data breach that could result in a fine of $1.63 billion.

According to Digital Trends, the latest hack involves the use of browser extensions. "It is always best to check which source an extension is coming from, and which permissions it is being granted access to," it said.

The breaches at Facebook’s end are becoming worryingly regular and it doesn’t help that the disclosure happens long after the hacker has accessed all the data.

India tried its luck by asking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the Cambridge Analytica breach, but we all know how that panned out. On 26 July this year, the government announced in Parliament that it has ordered a CBI probe into Cambridge Analytica’s (CA) misuse of Facebook data.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It is suspected that CA may have been involved in illegally obtaining data of Indians”. And the government has yet to receive a response from the UK-based data analytics company, which officially announced its decision to shut down the business on 2 May.

(Inputs from IANS)

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