Saturday March 23, 2019
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WhatsApp asked not to share data with Facebook

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Whatsapp and Telegram
A WhatsApp logo is seen behind a smartphone, Feb. 20, 2014. Authorities in Afghanistan are temporarily blocking WhatsApp and Telegram social media services in the country. VOA

France’s privacy watchdog has issued a formal notice to WhatsApp, asking the popular mobile messaging app to stop sharing user data with the parent company Facebook within a month. The Chair of the National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) had asked WhatsApp to provide a sample of the French users’ data transferred to Facebook.

“The company explained that it could not supply the sample requested by the CNIL since it is located in the US, it considers that it is only subject to the legislation of this (US) country,” CNIL posted on its website late on Monday. “As a result, the Chair of the CNIL decided to issue a formal notice to the company WhatsApp to comply with the Data Protection Act within one month,” it added.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014. On August 25, 2016, WhatsApp released a new version of its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy where it explained that “from now on, its users’ data are transferred to Facebook for three purposes: targeted advertising, security and evaluation and improvement of services (business intelligence)”.

“While the security purpose seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the ‘business intelligence’ purpose which aims at improving performances and optimising the use of the application through the analysis of its users’ behaviour,” noted Chair of the CNIL.

Facebook data
The new guidelines may violate the security concerns of some nations

The watchdog considered that the data transfer for “business intelligence” purpose is not based on the legal basis required by the Data Protection Act for any processing. It then decided to send a formal public notice in order to ensure the highest level of transparency on the massive data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook Inc. and, thus, to alert to the need for individuals concerned to keep their data under control.

This is not the first incident where WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing has been condemned. Germany has also ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users. After repeated criticism, Facebook also agreed to stop collecting WhatsApp user data in the UK. IANS

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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.

ALSO READ: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Receives Death Threats on Social Media

“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)