Facebook reveals more details about recent hack that affected 30 million accounts

Image brittany herbert  mashable

"We're cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack", the company said.

Facebook said hackers were able to access phone numbers, email addresses and search information as part of the company's most recent data breach. Last month, when it first disclosed the breach, Facebook said 50 million accounts could have been affected, but the company didn't know if they had been misused.

The social network also found no evidence that attackers used the stolen tokens to access any third-party apps, including those that use Facebook's single-sign-in to log in. The attackers then used the list of friends they collected to "eventually steal access tokens for about 30 million people".

But if you thought that was good, comes the revelation that the attackers accessed name and contact details of 15 of the 30 million, and everything from gender to relationship status for another 14 million.

Wondering whether you are one of the 29 million Facebook users who had their personal details - including location and search history - stolen by hackers?

Earlier, Facebook had said that a security breach had affected the accounts of as many as 50 million people. Facebook says it has since fixed the flaw but it had to also reset the access tokens of around 90 million users post the breach. Then, they "used an automated technique to move from account to account so they could steal the access tokens of those friends", and then friends of those friends. For those who don't know, Security Tokens or access tokens are digital encryption keys that are unique to an account and are stored to keep the user logged in so they don't have to enter passwords all the time.

That feature allows users to check privacy settings by glimpsing what their profile looks like to others.

Regardless of whether your account was affected, you might also want to consider deleting or deactivating your Facebook account, especially if you don't use it often.

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Facebook is already sending customised messages to the 30 million affected users to explain what has happened.

At that point, Facebook had started investigating the issue, so it wasn't exactly sure which users had actually been impacted.

The latest disclosure, another in a series of security lapses that have shaken public confidence in Facebook, may intensify political heat on the company. But the software bugs made user information vulnerable from July 2017 to September 2018.

"Today's update from Facebook is significant now that it is confirmed that the data of millions of users was taken by the perpetrators of the attack", Ireland's Data Protection Commission said in a statement on Friday. It plans to send messages to people whose accounts were hacked.

So how did the attackers gain access to data from so many Facebook accounts?

This sort of personal detail can help identity thieves accomplish hacks for years into the future.

"Once you've become a target, it never ends", he said.

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