Sci-tech

Rogue browser extension blamed for theft of millions of Facebook private messages

Rogue browser extension blamed for theft of millions of Facebook private messages”

Facebook says that although personal data for each user doesn't appear to have been compromised, they were able to find a probable access point for the intrusion: fraudulent "browser extensions". Nor is there evidence that information for 120 million user accounts had been obtained - the kind of sizable breach that would hardly escape notice.

Facebook said the messages were not obtained through a breach in its security, but rather a dodgy browser extension. Behind the scenes, though, the extension would connect to Facebook and steal information from a victim's logged in account.

Facebook is back in the limelight with another alleged data breach, and this time users' personal messages shared on the platform are claimed to have been compromised.

"We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores", said Facebook executive Guy Rosen.

It is believed that numerous user details came from Russian Federation and Ukraine-based Facebook users although some messages also originated from people in the United States, the UK and Brazil, the BBC notes. Compromised data reportedly included chats about a recent Depeche Mode concert, complaints about a son-in-law, intimate conversations between lovers, and photos of a recent holiday as well.

Facebook became aware of the website hawking information from user accounts and started investigating about a month ago. Further, it was found that email addresses and phone numbers could have been extracted from 176,000 more accounts.

The BBC Russian service contacted the five Russian users whose messages were uploaded by FBSaler and the post were theirs.

"Browsers like Chrome can be very secure, but browser extensions can introduce serious gaps in their armour". Facebook has claimed that the data theft wasn't the company's fault.

Independent cyber-experts have told the BBC that if rogue extensions were indeed the cause, the browsers' developers might share some responsibility for failing to vet the programs, assuming they were distributed via their marketplaces.

The advertiser was asked whether the breached accounts were the same as those involved in either the Cambridge Analytica scandal or the subsequent security breach revealed in September.

He said that the information had nothing to do with either data leak.



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