Monday December 16, 2019
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Experts Urging Users to Change their Facebook Passwords and Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way

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Facebook
Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way. Pixabay

After a report revealed around 200-600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by over 20,000 Facebook employees, cybersecurity experts are urging users to change their passwords and turn on the two-factor authentication (2FA).

So far the inquiry has uncovered archives with plain text user passwords dating back to 2012, according to the report published this week by KrebsOnSecurity, a blog run by journalist Brian Krebs.

Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way.

“It’s perfectly possible that no passwords at all fell into the hands of any crooks as a result of this. But if any passwords did get into the wrong hands then you can expect them to be abused,” said Paul Ducklin, Senior Technologist at global cybersecurity firm Sophos.

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Facebook said it had found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords. Pixabay

“Hashed passwords still need to be cracked before they can be used; plaintext passwords are the real deal without any further hacking or cracking needed,” Ducklin added.

Facebook said it had found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords.

“While the details of the incident are still emerging, this is likely an accidental programming error that led to the logging of plain text credentials. That said, this should never have happened and Facebook needs to ensure that no user credentials or data were compromised as a result of this error,” said John Shier, Senior Security Advisor at Sophos.

“This is also another reminder for people who are still reusing passwords or using weak passwords to change their Facebook password to something strong and unique and to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA),” Shier said. Turning on 2FA would mean that a password alone is not enough for crooks to raid your account, Ducklin added.

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Turning on 2FA would mean that a password alone is not enough for crooks to raid your account, Ducklin added. Pixabay

Facebook also asked people to change their passwords “out of an abundance of caution”.

Earlier this month, Facebook came under scrutiny for using phone numbers provided for security reasons — like two-factor authentication (2FA) — for things like advertising and making users searchable by their phone numbers across its different platforms.

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“Another security measure users can implement to strengthen their digital security postures is to use different passwords for different online accounts. Don’t use your Facebook password for any other login, particularly for personal/professional email accounts or online banking,” said Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Limited.

“It is also a good practice to log out whenever not using Facebook, even on mobile devices,” Katkar added. (IANS)

Next Story

Fake Ads on Facebook Spreading Rumours About anti-HIV Drugs

"Facebook and Instagram immediately remove the advertisements outlined above that are harming public health," it added

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Fake ads on Facebook are spreading rumours about the ill-effect of anti-HIV drugs, targeting LGBTQ Facebook and Instagram users and are causing significant harm to public health, a non-profit organization GLAAD has written in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We are urgently reaching out to Facebook and Instagram regarding factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).

“We request that Facebook and Instagram remove the advertisements and also publicly address the misinformation that the platforms allowed to spread,” the non-profit organization said in the letter.

Using Facebook’s and Instagram’s targeted advertising programs, various law firms are attempting to recruit gay and bisexual men who use Truvada PrEP as an HIV preventative to join a lawsuit, claiming that the drug has caused harmful side effects in this patient population, specifically bone density and kidney issues.

“This is despite numerous studies underscoring the safety of TDF in HIV-negative PrEP users,” said GLAAD.

Leading public health officials, medical professionals, and dedicated PrEP navigators and outreach coordinators have shared that these advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are being directly cited by at-risk community members expressing heightened fears about taking PrEP.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that when taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use.

“Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 per cent when taken daily.”

HIV test price in Delhi, HIV in Delhi, STD test in Delhi
HIV is a virus that impairs the body’s immune system badly and eventually takes the patient closer. Pixabay

By allowing these advertisements to persist on their platforms, said the letter, Facebook and Instagram are convincing at-risk individuals to avoid PrEP, invariably leading to avoidable HIV infections.

“You are harming public health.”

Facebook was yet to comment on the letter.

Facebook’s Advertising Policy regarding misinformation in ads states that “Facebook prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”

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We are the organizations with “particular expertise,” said GLAAD.

They demanded immediate action to ameliorate the harm which has already been caused to those who may be seeking preventative treatment against HIV.

“Facebook and Instagram immediately remove the advertisements outlined above that are harming public health,” it added. (IANS)