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Facebook exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos to developers in latest data leak

Facebook exposed private photos from up to 6.8 million users to apps that weren’t supposed to see them, the company said today. These apps were authorized to see a limited set of users’ photos, but a bug allowed them to see pictures they weren’t granted access to. These included photos from people’s stories as well as photos that people uploaded but never posted (because Facebook saved a copy anyway).

“Darktrace’s machine learning approach means that our days of battling cyber-threats at the border are over,” commented Paul Martinello, Vice President of Information Technology, Energy+. “Before deploying Darktrace, we had no way of detecting emerging threats, and we had a reactive approach to cyber defense. The Enterprise Immune System protects our network from the inside out, allowing us to catch even the subtlest and most advanced forms of threat at their earliest stages.”

24/7 Cybersecurity

The exposure occurred between September 12th and September 25th. Facebook toldTechCrunch that it discovered the breach on the 25th; it isn’t clear why the company waited until now to disclose it. (Perhaps it’s because the company was dealing with a separate and substantially larger breach that it also discovered on September 25th.)

Affected users will receive a notificationalerting them that their photos may have been exposed. Facebook also says it’ll be working with developers to delete copies of photos they weren’t supposed to access. In total, up to 1,500 apps from 876 different developers may have inappropriately accessed people’s pictures.

Image: Facebook

Facebook said the bug had to do with an error related to Facebook Login and its photos API, which allows developers to access Facebook photos within their own apps. All of the impacted users had logged into a third-party app using their Facebook accounts and granted them some degree of access to view their photos.

“We’re sorry this happened,” writes Tomer Bar, engineering director at Facebook. The disclosure comes exactly one day after Facebook opened a pop-up installation in New York to show people how “you can manage your privacy” on the site.

Facebook has been in hot water again and again this year over data breaches and exposures, most notably with Cambridge Analytica. In many cases, the problems haven’t been caused by hackers, but they have stemmed from issues within Facebook itself. The Cambridge Analytica breach happened because of Facebook’s lax oversight of developers and data sharing; today’s issue happened because of another breakdown in communication between Facebook and developers.

Google has already pledged to shut down Google+ over similar issues. Twice this year, the service exposed information inappropriately to developers.

Source:  The Verge Jacob Kastrenakes on 


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Windows 10 can carry on slurping even when you’re sure you yelled STOP

All your activity are belong to us

Updated A feature introduced in the April 2018 Update of Windows 10 may have set off a privacy landmine within the bowels of Redmond as users have discovered that their data was still flowing into the intestines of the Windows giant, even with the thing apparently turned off.

In what is likely to be more cock-up than conspiracy, it appears that Microsoft is continuing to collect data on recent user activities even when the user has explicitly said NO, DAMMIT!

First noted in an increasingly shouty thread over on Reddit, the issue is related to Activity History, which is needed to make the much-vaunted and little-used Timeline feature work in Windows 10.

Introduced in what had previously been regarded as one of Microsoft’s flakiest updates – prior to the glory of the October 2018 Update, of course – Timeline allows users to go back through apps as well as websites to get back to what they were doing at a given point.

Use a Microsoft account, and a user can view this over multiple PCs and mobile devices (as long you are signed in with that same Microsoft account). The key setting is that “Send my activity history to Microsoft” check box. Uncheck it and you’d be forgiven for thinking your activity would not be sent Redmondwards. Right?

Activity History

Except, er, the slurping appears to be carrying on unabated.

The Redditors reported that if one takes a look at the Activity History in the Privacy Dashboard lurking within their account, apps and sites are still showing up.

The fellows over at How To Geek have speculated the issue may be something to do with Windows’ default diagnostic setting, which is set to Full and will send back app and history unless changed to Basic. Of course, Windows Insiders have no option but to accept Full, although a bit of slurping is likely to be the least of their problems.

A thread at TenForums has also provided a guide to turning the thing off, ranging from tinkering with Group Policies through to diving headlong into the Registry. Neither are options likely to appeal to users who would expect that clearing the “Send data” box would stop data being sent.

Deliberate slurpage, or a case of poor QAand one team not talking to the other aside, it isn’t a great look for Microsoft and users are muttering about potential legal action. Privacy lawyers will certainly be taking a close look – after all, the gang at Redmond are already under scrutiny for harvesting data and telemetry from lucky users of Windows 10.

Google has been on the receiving end of a sueball for slurping location data from user’s phones and providing an over-complicated way to turn off the “feature”.

It is all a bit of a mess and has left users unsure of what is being collected and when. We have contacted Microsoft to find out how it plans to deal with the situation (ideally before 2018’s privacy bogeyman, GDPR, makes an appearance) and will update if a response is forthcoming. ®

Update 13 December 16.45UTC

Microsoft got in touch to insist it is committed to privacy and transparency, but admitted there is indeed a bit of naming problem, with “Activity History” cropping up in both Windows 10 and the Microsoft Privacy dashboard.

Marisa Rogers, Privacy Officer at the software giant, told us: “We are working to address this naming issue in a future update.”

The slurpage collection is of course for your benefit and Rogers added that users have “controls to manage your data.”

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The 21 biggest data breaches of 2018

  • Data breaches in 2018 compromised the personal information of millions of people around the world.

  • Here are 21 of the biggest data breaches that companies faced this year.


It seems like every week, a new company has to notify its customers that their data may have been compromised, and personal information may have been affected.

Data breaches can happen for a variety of reasons. Some companies are hacked. Data can be mishandled or sold to third parties. Holes in a website’s security system can leave information unprotected.

One of the latest victims was Marriott hotels, which recently revealed that hackers had accessed the information of an estimated 500 million customers.


“Darktrace’s machine learning approach means that our days of battling cyber-threats at the border are over,” commented Paul Martinello, Vice President of Information Technology, Energy+. “Before deploying Darktrace, we had no way of detecting emerging threats, and we had a reactive approach to cyber defense. The Enterprise Immune System protects our network from the inside out, allowing us to catch even the subtlest and most advanced forms of threat at their earliest stages.”


24/7 Cybersecurity

Some of the biggest victims in 2018 include T-Mobile, Quora, Google, and Orbitz. Facebook dealt with a slew of major breaches and incidents that affected more than 100 million users of the popular social network.

Here are the biggest data breaches that were revealed this year, ranked by number of users affected:

21. British Airways — 380,000

21. British Airways — 380,000Jack Taylor / Getty

What was affected: Card payments

When it happened: August 21, 2018 — September 5, 2018

How it happened: A “criminal” hack affecting bookings made on the airline’s website and app.

Source: Business Insider

20. Orbitz — 880,000

20. Orbitz — 880,000Orbitz

What was affected: Payment card information and personal data such as billing addresses, phone numbers, and emails.

When it happened: January 1, 2016 — December 22, 2017

How it happened: Hackers accessed travel bookings in the website’s system.

Source: Reuters

19. SingHealth — 1.5 million

What was affected: Names and addresses in the Singapore government’s health database, and some patients’ history of dispensed medicines. Information on the prime minister of Singapore was specifically targeted.

When it happened: May 1, 2015 — July 4, 2018

How it happened: Hackers orchestrated a “deliberate, targeted, and well-planned” attack, according to a statement.

Source: BBC

18. T-Mobile — about 2 million

18. T-Mobile — about 2 millionAdam Berry/Getty Images

What was affected: Encrypted passwords and personal data, including account numbers, billing information, and email addresses.

When it happened: August 20, 2018

How it happened: An “international group” of hackers accessed T-Mobile servers through an API.

Source: Motherboard

IT Consulting

17. myPersonality — 4 million

17. myPersonality — 4 million
Ime Archibong, a Facebook executive who wrote the blog post announcing the issues with myPersonality.

What was affected: Personal data via Facebook customers who used the myPersonality app.

When it happened: The app was “mostly active before 2012,” but was banned from Facebook this year in April.

How it happened: The app mishandled Facebook user data by sharing “information with researchers as well as companies with only limited protections in place.”

Source: Business Insider

16. Saks and Lord & Taylor — 5 million

16. Saks and Lord & Taylor — 5 millionNorthfoto/Shutterstock

What was affected: Payment card numbers

When it happened: Details were never shared.

How it happened: “New York-based security firm Gemini Advisory LLC says that a hacking group called JokerStash announced last week that it had put up for sale more than 5 million stolen credit and debit cards, and that the compromised records came from Saks and Lord & Taylor customers.”

Source: Associated Press

15. — 6.42 million

15. — 6.42

What was affected: Email addresses and encrypted passwords for customers’ online store accounts.

When it happened: Sometime in June 2018

How it happened: Hackers carried out “a sophisticated criminal cyberattack on its computer network.”

Source: ZDNet

14. Cathay Pacific Airways — 9.4 million

What was affected: 860,000 passport numbers; 245,000 Hong Kong identity card numbers; 403 expired credit card numbers; and 27 credit card numbers without the card verification value (CVV).

When it happened: Activity was discovered in March 2018

How it happened: Passenger data was accessed “without authorization.”

Source: Reuters

Quora Website Data Breach Hits 100 Million Users

13. Careem — 14 million

13. Careem — 14 millionFaisal Al Nasser/Reuters

What was affected: Names, email addresses, phone numbers, and trip data.

When it happened: January 14, 2018

How it happened: “Access was gained to a computer system that stored customer and driver account information.”

Source: Reuters

12. Timehop — 21 million

12. Timehop — 21 millioniTunes

What was affected: Names, email addresses, and some phone numbers.

When it happened: December 2017 — July 2018

How it happened: “An access credential to our cloud computing environment was compromised … That cloud computing account had not been protected by multifactor authentication.”

Source: Business Insider

11. Ticketfly — 27 million

11. Ticketfly — 27 millionShutterstock

What was affected: Personal information including names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.

When it happened: Late May 2018

How it happened: A hacker called “IsHaKdZ” compromised the site’s webmaster and “gained access to a database titled ‘backstage,’ which contains client information for all the venues, promoters, and festivals that utilize Ticketfly’s services.”

Source: The Verge

10. Facebook — 29 million

10. Facebook — 29 millionWachiwit/Shutterstock

What was affected: Highly sensitive data, including locations, contact details, relationship status, recent searches, and devices used to log in.

When it happened: July 2017 — September 2018

How it happened: “The hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in Facebook’s code to get their hands on ‘access tokens’ — essentially digital keys that give them full access to compromised users’ accounts — and then scraped users’ data.”

Source: Business Insider

9. Chegg — 40 million

What was affected: Personal data including names, email addresses, shipping addresses, and account usernames and passwords.

When it happened: April 29, 2018 — September 19, 2018

How it happened: According to Chegg’s SEC filing: “An unauthorized party gained access to a Company database that hosts user data for and certain of the Company’s family of brands such as EasyBib.”

Source: ZDNet

8. Google+ — 52.5 million

8. Google+ — 52.5 millionSean Gallup/Getty Images

What was affected: Private information on Google+ profiles, including name, employer and job title, email address, birth date, age, and relationship status.

When it happened: 2015 — March 2018, November 7 — November 13

How it happened: Earlier this year, Google announced it would be shutting down Google+ after a Wall Street Journal report revealed that a software glitch caused Google to expose the personal profile data of 500,000 Google+ users. Then again in December, Google revealed it had experienced a second data breach that affected 52.5 million users. Google has now decided it will shut down Google+ for good in April 2019.

Source: Wall Street Journal,Google

7. Cambridge Analytica — 87 million

7. Cambridge Analytica — 87 million
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What was affected: Facebook profiles and data identifying users’ preferences and interests.

When it happened: 2015

How it happened: An personality prediction app called “thisisyourdigital life,” developed by a University of Cambridge professor, improperly passed on user information to third parties that included Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that assisted President Trump’s presidential campaign by creating targeted ads using millions of people’s voter data.

Only 270,000 Facebook users actually installed the app, but due to Facebook’s data sharing policies at the time, the app was able to gather data on millions of their friends.

Source: Business Insider

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6. MyHeritage — 92 million

6. MyHeritage — 92 millionGetty Images/William Thomas Cain

What was affected: Email addresses and encrypted passwords of users who have signed up for the service.

When it happened: October 26, 2017

How it happened: “A trove of email addresses and hashed passwords were sitting on a private server somewhere outside of the company.”

Source: Business Insider

5. Quora — 100 million

5. Quora — 100 millioniTunes

What was affected: Account info including names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, data from user accounts linked to Quora, and users’ public questions and answers.

When it happened: Discovered in November 2018

How it happened: A “malicious third party” accessed one of Quora’s systems.

Source: Reuters

4. MyFitnessPal — 150 million

4. MyFitnessPal — 150 millionShutterstock

What was affected: Usernames, email addresses, and encrypted passwords.

When it happened: February 2018

How it happened: An “unauthorized party” gained access to data from user accounts on MyFitnessPal, an Under Armour-owned fitness app.

Source: Business Insider

3. Exactis — 340 million

3. Exactis — 340 millionFlickr / Leonardo Rizzi

What was affected: Detailed information compiled on millions of people and businesses including phone numbers, addresses, personal interests and characteristics, and more.

When it happened: June 2018

How it happened: A security expert spotted a database “with pretty much every US citizen in it” left exposed “on a publicly accessible server,” although it’s unclear whether any hackers accessed the information.

Source: WIRED

2. Marriott Starwood hotels — 500 million

2. Marriott Starwood hotels — 500 millionMarriott International

What was affected: Guest information including phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, reservation dates, and some payment card numbers and expiration dates.

When it happened: 2014 — September 2018

How it happened: Hackers accessed the reservation database for Marriott’s Starwood hotels, and copied and stole guest information.

Source: Business Insider

1. Aadhar — 1.1 billion

1. Aadhar — 1.1 billionShutterstock

What was affected: Private information on India residents, including names, their 12-digit ID numbers, and information on connected services like bank accounts.

When it happened: It’s unclear when the database was first breached, but it was discovered in March 2018.

How it happened: India’s government ID database, which stores citizens’ identity and biometric info, experienced “a data leak on a system run by a state-owned utility company Indane.” Indane hadn’t secured their API, which is used to access the database, which gave anyone access to Aadhar information.

Source: ZDNet

Source: Business Insider