Facebook announced Friday that hackers were able to access information giving them the power to commandeer about 50 million accounts.
Facebook said it had addressed the issue and reset access tokens for the 50 million accounts directly impacted, and an additional 40 million accounts. Overall, Facebook has about 2.23 billion accounts.
The breach would have allowed hackers to gain access to users’ other accounts on platforms such as Instagram and Spotify. It was unclear Friday if any user accounts on those platforms had been compromised.
“We do not yet know whether these accounts were misused but we are continuing to look into this and will update when we learn more, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page.
“This has really shown us that because today’s digital environment is so complex, a compromise on a single platform — especially one as popular and widely reaching as Facebook — can have consequences that are much more far-reaching than what we can tell in early days of the investigation,” said April Doss, chairwoman of cybersecurity at the law firm Saul Ewing, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported that the breach included hackers gaining access to the accounts of Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg,
Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra said the breach was a major incident.
“Breaches don’t just violate our privacy. They create enormous risks for our economy and national security,” Chopra said in a statement. “The cost of inaction is growing, and we need answers.”
I want answers. https://t.co/kZSttt4fmF
— Rohit Chopra (@chopraftc) September 28, 2018
The breach first came to Facebook’s attention on Sept. 16, when the company saw a spike in activity, CNBC reported. Upon investigation, Facebook learned on Tuesday that hackers had found a weakness in Facebook’s “View As” feature. Using three separate flaws, hackers could get the access tokens of users.
“Security is an arms race, and we’re continuing to improve our defenses,” Zuckerberg said Friday. “This just underscores there are constant attacks from people who are trying to underscore accounts in our community.”
To some, that means the federal government needs to step in.
“This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users,” said Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat. “A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened.”
Facebook notified the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, Reuters reported.
Matt Schulz, Chief Industry Analyst at CompareCards, said the incident should focus social media users on their security.
“This breach can be yet another wake-up call for people to take their online security seriously,” Schulz said, according to Fox News. “We think nothing of visiting Facebook and Instagram 10 times a day, but we feel like we don’t have enough time to take basic safety steps for our online identity.”
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