Facebook now says data breach affected 29 mln users, details impact

Image brittany herbert  mashable

Facebook says 20 million fewer accounts were breached than originally thought in one of the worst security incidents at the giant social network - 30 million instead of 50 million - but attackers made off with sensitive personal information from almost half of those users that could put them at serious risk including phone number and email address, recent searches on Facebook, location history and the types of devices people used to access the service.

Other 15 million users had their names and contact information breached, and 1 million users exclusively had their access tokens stolen; Facebook has reset the access tokens for all of those users. While the total number of accessed accounts was smaller than initially thought, the personal data taken from about half of the affected accounts was extensive.

Facebook on Friday provided an update on a recent breach to say that 30 million people had their Facebook access tokens stolen rather than the previously announced 50 million.

Last month Facebook revealed that its engineering team had discovered an issue where hackers were able to exploit a vulnerability in the site's "View As" feature. For 14 million people, the attackers accessed the same two sets of information, as well as other details people had on their profiles.

Facebook does not believe that hackers obtained any information from the other one million people compromised by the attack, which started on September 14 and which Facebook said it was able to stop on September 27.

Regulators around the world have ongoing inquiries into another matter that came to light in March: How profile details from 87 million Facebook users were improperly accessed by political data firm Cambridge Analytica. Nevertheless, Facebook is working with different agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help nail down the perpetrators of the attack.

Facebook indicated that hackers stole access tokens through its "view as" feature.

The breach has left users more vulnerable to targeted phishing attacks and could deepen unease about posting to a service whose privacy, moderation and security practices have been called into question by a series of scandals, cybersecurity experts and financial analysts said. Ultimately this got them access to about 400,000 people.

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The attack began on September 14.

Facebook has been quick to let users check exactly what was accessed.

Facebook has also established a Web page that will inform users who are logged in whether their accounts were affected.

Facebook said it took a precautionary step of resetting "access tokens" for another 40 million accounts which had accessed the "view as" function.

Facebook's disclosure puts the company under even greater pressure as policymakers have taken the company to task over its approach to user privacy and data.

If your account was hacked you will see a message similar to the one shown below which comes from a New York Times reporter's account which was compromised.

Photo Credit: Facebook. Customised messages that people will see depending on how they were impactedFacebook has, however, confirmed that this attack did not include Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Pages, payments, third-party apps, or advertising or developer accounts.

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