In the final days of free speech platform Parler’s existence before Big Tech wiped it from the face of the internet, a flaw in the website’s coding was exploited that could spell serious trouble for some, including many who trespassed into the U.S. Capitol last week.
Around 99.9 percent of content was compromised as part of the exploit, affecting virtually every user.
The hacker behind the massive breach, operating under the Twitter account @donk_enby according to Gizmodo, began scraping user data after the Jan. 6 incursion at the Capitol.
“I want this to be a big middle finger to those who say hacking shouldn’t be political,” the hacker told Gizmodo.
Originally setting out to catalog content posted on Jan. 6, the witch hunt expanded to include all posts on the site.
It was discovered that files posted by users could be pulled from Parler with metadata still intact.
The metadata, embedded in pictures and videos taken by most modern cameras and cell phones, reveals information about where the photo was taken, what equipment was used to take it, and when the image was captured.
In a photo posted to Twitter, the hacker revealed that the data was so accurate, it could pinpoint the GPS coordinates of where a picture was taken.
— crash override (@donk_enby) January 10, 2021
Bad actors can easily exploit this data, which could include the exact coordinates of someone’s home (scraped from a picture of a house innocently uploaded to Parler), or information about the usual whereabouts of children.
Investigators hunting the thugs behind violence in Washington, D.C., could also use the data to pursue leads and gather evidence.
For those who trespassed inside the Capitol and caused chaos, any incriminating posts will now be virtually impossible to remove from the internet.
The hacker confirmed to Gizmodo that posts would be saved on the Internet Archive.
In total, over 56 terabytes of data have been pulled from the site and saved, regardless of whether the user was at the Capitol incursion or not. To put that in perspective, one terabyte is equal to 1,024 gigabytes.
It’s unlikely that pictures of users’ identification cards, which Parler used to verify users, were compromised in the breach since only public posts were affected.
Parler’s entire platform virtually disappeared in the wake of the Capitol incursion as Twitter, Google, and Apple all dropped the censorship hammer on the service.
Shortly after, Amazon pulled Parler from the internet by kicking it off its web servers. Parler is digging in for a fight however, and the future may see a reversal of fate for the upstart tech company.
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