Facebook Users’ Personal Information Illegally Publicized

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Nearly 300 million personal data from Facebook users were compromised and made available to the public for almost two weeks. Cyber security consultant Bob Diachenko, together with UK tech research company Comparitech, discovered a public database containing names, phone numbers, and user IDs of registered Facebook accounts late last year. Most owners of these accounts are US citizens. Investigations revealed that all listed data were extracted illegally to a server in Vietnam. Since the data seemed to be taken from a reputable source, the database can be treated as a gold mine of information by individuals and groups who sell personal information. Comparitech said that owners of the exposed data might have become victims of spam messaging and other fraudulent activities. Diachenko said that the data might have been compromised before Facebook implemented restrictions on access to users’ private information in 2018. The analyst speculates that the database might have been accidentally set to public, causing it to become accessible to anyone for 10 days in December. The database became unavailable only after Diachenko informed the Internet service provider who handles the IP address of its server about the incident. Because of possible security concerns that the incident posed, Comparitech warned Facebook users to be cautious of any text messages from unknown sources. According to the company, users can prevent unwanted access to their profiles by updating their account privacy settings. This can be done by making posts and information viewable only by Facebook friends and making profiles unsearchable via search engines like Google.

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