Birth dates, education history, religious preferences and other details stolen

Jeannie Matthews
October 14, 2018

However, unlike other major hacks involving big companies, Facebook said it had no plans to provide protection services for concerned users.

In a statement, Facebook said that hackers accessed the name, contact details and other information of the accounts of 14 million people. Of that total, 1 million people did not have any information accessed, while 15 million people had their name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had on their profiles) accessed. While Facebook claimed that fewer users - 30 million and not 50 million as originally thought - had their access tokens stolen by exploiting 400,000 accounts. The attackers then used the list of friends they collected to "eventually steal access tokens for about 30 million people".

Facebook's vice president of product management Guy Rosen used a blog post today to share further details on the data the hackers stole from those affected accounts.

It explained that 50 million people's access tokens are believed to have been affected, and that 30 million of those actually had their tokens stolen.

The bugs that allowed the attack to occur gave hackers the ability to effectively take over Facebook accounts on a widespread basis, Facebook said when it disclosed the breach. "If we find more Facebook accounts were impacted, we will reset their access tokens and notify those accounts".

Turn on two-factor authentication whenever you can, but especially on your most sensitive or valuable accounts.

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Facebook said users who were affected would get a message in the coming days with information on what they can do to best protect themselves and their privacy.

More than a week later, Facebook determined that the activity was an attack on its systems, focused on three interconnected vulnerabilities in the company's software.

The remaining one million whose tokens were stolen lost no data, Mr Rosen said. It also could be used in so-called spear phishing attacks, in which hackers use the information they know about particular users to send them personalized messages that convince them to leak their passwords or other critical data.

Security experts have said Facebook's initial breach disclosure arrived earlier than it likely would have prior to the enactment in May of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates notification within 72 hours of learning of a compromise.

Facebook's data breach was smaller than first feared, the network has now said, but for those most seriously affected losses are vast and highly personal.

Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the breach appeared similar to identity theft breaches that have occurred at companies including Yahoo and Target in 2013. There had been concerns about whether hackers could access outside apps that use Facebook login credentials, but that turns out not to have been the case.

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