Personal details of 30 million Facebook users leaked in latest security breach

Irving Hamilton
October 13, 2018

Asked whether Facebook would pay for some kind of identity theft monitoring service for affected users - as breached companies often do - a spokeswoman said: "Not at this time".

Around 30 million people had their Facebook accounts compromised by hackers and their data potentially stolen last month, the company announced on Friday. That number has now been reduced to just 30 million, but the amount of data stolen makes it the worst attack in Facebook's history.

Facebook noted that the hack did not affect its popular Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms, and that no financial information was accessed.

Facebook originally estimated that up to 50 million users had their information exposed, but that number has since dropped down to around 30 million.

The bugs that allowed the attack to occur gave hackers the ability to effectively take over Facebook accounts on a widespread basis, Facebook said when it disclosed the breach.

The breach was the latest privacy embarrassment for Facebook, which earlier this year acknowledged that tens of millions of users had their personal data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016. On Sept. 28, it went public with news of the incident, logging out about 90 million users as a precaution. "The calculations of the potential fines under GDPR are a bit mind-boggling with any possible impact to millions of users". According to TechCrunch, the company is cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but are not allowed to speculate about who may be behind the attack. The company said hackers were able to access personal information for almost half of those accounts.

The attackers apparently used some kind of automated method of grabbing access tokens from friends of accounts they already controlled.

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On Friday, the company revealed that stolen data on 14 million users included birth dates, employers, education and lists of friends.

Facebook did not rule out the possibility of smaller-scale attacks and said it would continue to investigate.

Facebook says it noticed "an unusual spike of activity" on September 14, and on September 25, determined that it was being attacked.

Facebook's lead European Union data regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, last week opened an investigation into the breach.

Users can check to see if they were affected by the hack by visiting Facebook's help center. Facebook will also send messages directly to those people affected by the hack.

While that information may seem innocuous since it doesn't include things like payment information, private chats within Facebook Messenger, photographs, etc., the hackers could still likely profit immensely from all that data.

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