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Hackers Didn’t Access Any Third-party Apps: Facebook

The privacy watchdog could fine Facebook as much as $1.63 billion for the data breach

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Facebook now has a War Room to fight election interference. Pixabay
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Tendering a fresh apology in the data breach that affected 50 million users, Facebook has said that a detailed investigation found no evidence that the hackers accessed any third-party apps using Facebook Login.

In the biggest-ever security breach after Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook last week admitted that hackers broke into nearly 50 million users’ accounts by stealing their “access tokens” or digital keys.

“We have now analysed our logs for all third-party apps installed or logged in during the attack we discovered last week. That investigation has so far found no evidence that the attackers accessed any apps using Facebook Login,” Guy Rosen, Vice President of Product Management at Facebook, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Rosen said Facebook has 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” look-up in 2017.

Facebook
This Feb. 19, 2014, photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“Resetting the access tokens protected the security of people’s accounts and meant they had to log back in to Facebook or any of their apps that use Facebook Login,” the Facebook executive said, adding that “we’re sorry that this attack happened”.

Any developer using official Facebook SDKs — and all those that have regularly checked the validity of their users’ access tokens – were “automatically protected when we reset people’s access tokens”.

“However, out of an abundance of caution, as some developers may not use our SDKs, we’re building a tool to enable developers to manually identify the users of their apps who may have been affected, so that they can log them out,” said Rosen.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The social media giant recommends developers stick to its Login security best practices like using official Facebook SDKs for Android, iOS and JavaScript, using the Graph API to keep information updated regularly and log users out of apps where error codes show that any Facebook session is invalid.

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Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which is Facebook’s lead privacy regulator in Europe, has asked Facebook to submit more details in the incident where data of over 50 million users were hacked.

The privacy watchdog could fine Facebook as much as $1.63 billion for the data breach. (IANS)

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Facebook Set up a War Room to Fight Election Interference

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad

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Facebook
Facebook now has a War Room to fight election interference. Pixabay

In line with its efforts to prevent misuse of its platform during elections, Facebook has set up a War Room to reduce the spread of potentially harmful content.

Facebook faced flak for not doing enough to prevent spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 US presidential election. The social networking giant has rolled out several initiatives to fight fake news and bring more transparency and accountability in its advertising since then.

The launch of the first War Room at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, is part of the social network’s new initiatives to fight election interference on its platform.

Although Facebook opened the doors of the War Room ahead of the general elections in Brazil and mid-term elections in the US, it revealed the details only this week.

The goal behind setting up the War Room was to get the right subject-matter experts from across the company in one place so they can address potential problems identified by its technology in real time and respond quickly.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“The War Room has over two dozen experts from across the company – including from our threat intelligence, data science, software engineering, research, community operations and legal teams,” Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s Director of Product Management, Civic Engagement, said in a statement on Thursday.

“These employees represent and are supported by the more than 20,000 people working on safety and security across Facebook,” Chakrabarti added.

Facebook said its dashboards offer real-time monitoring on key elections issues, such as efforts to prevent people from voting, increases in spam, potential foreign interference, or reports of content that violates our policies.

The War Room team also monitors news coverage and election-related activity across other social networks and traditional media in order to identify what type of content may go viral.

These preparations helped a lot during the first round of Brazil’s presidential elections, Facebook claimed.

The social networking giant said its technology detected a false post claiming that Brazil’s Election Day had been moved from October 7 to October 8 due to national protests.

While untrue, that message began to go viral. But the team quickly detected the problem, determined that the post violated Facebook’s policies, and removed it in under an hour.

“And within two hours, we’d removed other versions of the same fake news post,” Chakrabarti said.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The team in the War Room, Facebook said, also helped quickly remove hate speech posts that were designed to whip up violence against people from northeast Brazil after the first round of election results were called.

“The work we are doing in the War Room builds on almost two years of hard work and significant investments, in both people and technology, to improve security on Facebook, including during elections,” Chakrabarti said.

Earlier this month Facebook said that it was planning to set up a task force comprising “hundreds of people” ahead of the 2019 general elections in India.

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“With the 2019 elections coming, we are pulling together a group of specialists to work together with political parties,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, told the media in New Delhi.

Facebook has also set a goal of bringing a transparency feature for political ads — now available in the US and Brazil — to India by March next year, Allan informed.

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad. (IANS)